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Alex Goodman, The Royal Oak

Firstly, some Church news from Jeffrey:

“The church Carol Service last Sunday was a great success, with over fifty people present. This was the first special service in the newly restored building and everyone was impressed with the (almost) finished result. The kitchen saw its first use and everyone enjoyed the service.

This coming Sunday we have both our usual 08.30 service and the rather special Whatlington Christmas Pageant at 3.30pm. The Pageant is likely to be busy, so an early arrival is recommended! The car park at the Village hall will be open. This is the first time the Pageant has started from the church since Christmas 2009 due to the fire, so it will be lovely to see it back.

On Christmas Eve we have a ‘midnight’ service a little earlier at 10pm not Midnight! Again the Village Hall Car Park will be open and we invite everyone to come and welcome Christmas in with us, drinks and light refreshments will be served after the service.”

An update from Hilda: “I can now let you know that the Appeal Fund for the church has now reached an incredible sum of £45,877.79. This week we have received more donations with reference to sponsoring a chair. To date we have received £1486.00 in sponsorship of chairs which equates to 14 chairs. I think that this is a lovely way to remember a loved one or anyone special to us. If you would like to sponsor a beech chair in church please contact either Hilda 01424 777358 , Jeffrey 01424 772535 or Ken 01424 772997 if you would like further details. If you wish, a plaque can be placed on the chair to acknowledge your sponsorship. Many thanks to all those who have given so generously.”

Here at the pub we are looking forward to Christmas next week, it is my favourite time of year! If you haven’t experienced a Christmas Eve at The Royal Oak, then you’ve really missed out - John Shepperd and his merry organ lead our carols around the bar from 8pm and we all have a fabulous (if somewhat chaotic) time. There will be mulled wine and mince pies, and as it does get very busy, please call 01424 870492 and book if you would like to reserve a table. The bar will be open 12-4pm on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Friday 27th is the last Friday of the month and therefore the last Irish Music session of the year! Musicians join together for a “jamming” style session of traditional Irish tunes around The Royal Oak bar from 8.30pm - come and join us for a good knees up during the holiday season!

New Year’s Eve will be celebrated at The Royal Oak, with a “Beach Party” this year! An easy fancy dress theme, so dig out your most colourful Hawaiian shirt, flower garlands and grass skirts and come along for some fun and games at your local pub. Please note the kitchen will be closed that night and there is no ticket/entrance fee.

The Whatlington Church Pageant will be held on Sunday December 22nd at 3.30pm. This traditional celebration of the nativity starts in our stunningly refurbished church and then moves through parts of the village, stopping for carols and readings around a fire, before ending up at Leeford Farmhouse for the crib scene in the barn. Music is provided by members of Battle Town Band and children are invited to dress as angels and shepherds to take part and form the final tableau. Mary rides on a real donkey and the whole event represents a magical retelling of the Christmas story.

Refreshments are kindly provided afterwards by Hugh and Lesley Apthorp. Free parking in the Village Hall; wrap up warmly and bring a torch.

There are no speaking parts; if your child would like to take part, or for any other information, please call Yvonne Underhill on 01424 775440.

If you have any news for this column, please email info@royaloak-whatlington.co.uk