Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Hambleden Railway Nativity wows crowds

MORE than 200 people enjoyed Christmas carols and a visit from Santa at the 11th annual Hambleden Valley railway nativity.

MORE than 200 people enjoyed Christmas carols and a visit from Santa at the 11th annual Hambleden Valley railway nativity.

The play was staged at Somersham station at Sir William and Lady McAlpine?s home on the Fawley Hill estate on Sunday.

About 40 children from the village and surrounding area performed a traditional nativity play in a tunnel at the end of the station platform.

They arrived in three groups on a British Railways Class 03 diesel engine owned by Sir William, who built the station and track in 1960.

Actress Charlotte Howard, from Henley, narrated the play and introduced each carol while musical accompaniment was provided by Suzannah Freer.

The audience sang along to Silent Night, Away In A Manger, O Come All Ye Faithful, O Little Town of Bethlehem and several others.

Mary and Joseph were played by Amber Butler Adams and Euan English. Mary arrived on a ?donkey?, which was in fact a rescued pony called Badger owned by the McAlpines? Brackenhill stud.

They were followed by the shepherds, the Three Wise Men and a number of angels, who were following the illuminated ?star of Bethlehem? on top of the tunnel arch.

Finally, the children were treated to a visit from Father Christmas, who arrived on the front of the engine accompanied by Lady McAlpine.

As they approached the end of the tunnel, a snow machine was switched on and the youngsters gathered round to receive presents.

Bucket collections were taken for the charity Railway Children, of which Sir William is a patron, and Fawley and Hambleden churches.

Ms Howard, a friend of Lady McAlpine?s, said: ?When I was asked to narrate it I agreed straight away. I never say ?no? to anything.

?I enjoyed it very much. It was huge fun and was ? as only Fawley can be ? a wonderful, charming and idiosyncratic occasion.

?The children dressed as all sorts of animals and we even had a real pony, though at one point we had to dance around something it dropped!?

Lady McAlpine said: ?It went tremendously well, though unfortunately I had to go off and meet Father Christmas so I only ever see the very beginning of it.

?I can?t imagine a Christmas without a nativity and I love to see everyone so happy. It?s quite mad but very sweet. We had more children this year than ever and Father Christmas ran out of presents.?

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