ACTRESS Joanna Page opened the Christmas fair in Kidmore End and said she loved the festive season.
The Gavin and Stacey star gave a short speech before cutting the ribbon at the village primary school in Chalkhouse Green Road.
She then mingled with the visitors among the stalls with her husband, former Emmerdale actor James Thornton, and their nine-month-old daughter Eva. The family moved to Cane End from London a year ago.
Page said: “We are just getting to know people and the area. They asked me if I’d like to open the fair and I said ‘yes’. It’s a brilliant way of getting involved with the community and making some new friends.”
She said seeing the school reminded her of her own childhood. “It’s so sweet,” she said. “I love Christmas anyway so it’s great that it has now officially started. To be here with all the little children running around, it’s just lovely.” The actress told the crowd of visitors: “After I’ve cut the ribbon I’m going to go to the gingerbread area and see how much I can eat. Then I’ll be seeing if there’s any mulled wine for sale before paying a visit to Father Christmas.”
About 350 people attended the fair, which featured stalls with local produce including Christmas cards and home-made jewellery, a raffle and beer stall. It raised more than £5,000.
The annual event is organised jointly by the school and the neighbouring St John the Baptist Church, with the money raised split equally between the two. The church will spend its half on maintenance, while the school plans to use its share on playground markings.
Judy Handley, who co-chairs the organising committee, said: “The fair involves a great deal of organisation but the pay-off is seeing so many happy, smiling faces on the day. We’re very grateful to Joanna Page and to all the local businesses, villagers and parents who have helped raise such a tremendous amount of money — we couldn’t do it without them.”
Co-chairwoman Adele Hawkes said: “Joanna was an absolute delight and lots of people said how nice she was.”
Headteacher Linda Hull said: “The atmosphere was wonderful and the children were so excited.”
Rev Canon Graham Foulis Brown, rector of St John, added: “The Christmas fair always highlights the depth of community spirit that exists in Kidmore End and strengthens it even further.”