LOCAL residents reacted swiftly to being moved into the Government’s new Tier 4 restrictions by switching their planned drive-in carol service at Mizens Railway, Knaphill, to online.

Neil Hopkins, vicar of Holy Trinity and St Saviour’s Church, organised the event, and he estimated that up to 180 parishioners joined the service through YouTube.

The plans had already suffered a setback when Neil, who was due to lead the service, had to go into self-isolation for a week, unable to return until Christmas Eve. Then his assistant caught the virus.

In the end, lay minister David Gale led the service, which included a five-minute piece on “the reason for the season”.

“We had started to wonder what else could happen to our plans, but David did a great job,” Neil said.

“I think that everybody wanted to do something and they were happy to swap their car seats for their sofas. They were quite undaunted.”

Now he and his team plan to hold a drive-in carol service at Mizens next Christmas.

“I think people will enjoy it and it’s a way of supporting Mizens Railway, which has been badly hit by the effect of coronavirus restrictions,” Neil added.

“It has lost thousands that it would have made from visitors, which has had a serious impact.”

The service was organised through Eventbrite, so it was easy to inform people of the move to online.  It ran for just under an hour from Holy Trinity Church, in Knaphill, and included many familiar carols, with Silent Night chosen by attendees as their favourite.

There was also a quiz and poetry readings.