MORE than 150 people braved heavy rain to be at this year’s annual Hambleden Valley railway nativity.
The event was held at the Fawley Hill estate of Sir William and Lady McAlpine on Sunday.
Children from the village performed a modern take on the traditional story will the station platform and track that was built by Sir William in 1960.
The story was narrated by Rev John Wigram, the rector of Hambleden, who has been involved in the event since it began in 2008.
The railway-themed performance began with Mary, played by Amelia Unwin, leading a “donkey” — alias Shetland pony Scooby — down the track to a stage made of hay bales.
She was joined in turn by Joseph, played by Oscar Bunting, the three wise men, shepherds, angels and a host of other characters who had gathered to see the baby Jesus.
Then Mary and Joseph caught a train from Nazareth to Bethlehem before being turned down for a room at the Station Inn.
The performance made good use of the station buildings as the shepherds walked down a grass verge to the stage and the angels descended from the bridge above.
The nativity was briefly interrupted when Scooby bolted down the track and away into the fields, almost dragging his handler with him.
Spotlight operator Sally Elliott was left soaked after spending the entire performance on the roof of a station building.
Saxidentally, a four-piece band from High Wycombe, provided music for the Christmas carols and hymns which were sung between each chapter of the story.
After the performance, the children were given a surprise as Sir William, dressed as Father Christmas, arrived on a train to give out presents.
Youngsters rushed to queue along the track to see Santa and were rewarded with toys from his sack including wind-up trains and marbles.
Lady Hambleden said: “The organisation was all a bit last minute.
“The weather was a bit of a shame but it didn’t stop everyone enjoying themselves. There was a real party atmosphere and I think we must have had about 100 kids there.
“Everyone in the nativity performed brilliantly and considering they got together for just half an hour the previous day it was tremendous. The vicar put his heart and soul into it and the idea of the characters turning up by train was brilliant.
“I want to say thank you to everybody who helped us out. This is the first time I’ve organised the nativity. I usually just do the mulled wine and get the stage ready.
“I had to burrow around in the house to find materials for more costumes so I think I might make some ready for next year.”
Mulled wine and snacks including mince pies and brownies were available throughout the evening. The event raised more than £400, which will go to the Railway Children charity, the St Matthew’s Children’s Fund and Fawley Church.
Rev Wigram said: “On other years we have had more than 400 people but 150 is a good number considering the wet weather and there were lots of families there. People come from quite far to see it.
“The kids performed perfectly. A few of them said they got wet feet but they did well to sit there for such a long time.
“This year all the children were from families in Fawley but in previous years we have had them from further afield.” The production team and cast were as follows: Music — Saxidentally; Narrator — Rev John Wigram; Gabriel — Francesca Green; Angelic host — lots of “angels”; Joseph — Oscar Bunting; Mary — Amelia Unwin; “Donkey” — Toby Oseman’s pony; Innkeeper 1 and 2 — Max Bunting; Innkeeper 3 — Alicia Green; Three magi — Arthur Unwin, Portia Hester and friend Kathryn; Shepherds — Max, Charlie, Freddie, Jack, Ludo, Otto, Iona, Ivy and more; Stationmaster — Mike Hurst; Engine drivers — Colin Gooding and Peter Chipperton.
Click here to view our picture gallery of some of those who attended.