FESTIVE trees of many designs and sizes cheered up people visiting St Peter’s Church in Old Woking last weekend.

The church was staging its biennial Christmas tree festival, held despite the need for strict coronavirus precautions.

“We hesitated before going ahead with the festival but decided to hold it because we had become familiar with the need to have hand sanitising, social distancing and mask wearing in the church,” said the vicar, the Rev Jonathan Thomas.

“It was just as successful as the last festival and people were very positive about it.”

There were 28 entries for the festival, mainly from church and community groups and also from families. A large tree outside the church door was sponsored by Hire Services Southern and supplied by Elm Nursery of Sutton Green.

More than 70 family groups toured the trees over the weekend, as carols played in the background. A collection for the Woking Hospice charity and the St Peter’s fabric fund is expected to total £250.

Visitors voted for their favourite tree and the winning entry was by Engage, a Christian group that promotes the gospel in Woking schools. Its tableau of small and mini trees depicted social distancing in schools.

Woking Funeral Service was second with its tribute to the NHS – including coronavirus molecules as baubles.

Westfield Common Environmental Support Group came second with a holly tree decorated with items of litter picked up by members.

The church’s usual Nativity service was replaced this year with an All Ages service on Sunday morning, attended by 44 people.

A large screen showed a Nativity play involving children and young people. They had filmed their individual performances in their homes and the parts were then edited together.

“It was a marvellous production arranged by our licensed lay minister, Rachel Johnson,” said Mr Thomas.