The day the circus came to town

Roll up, roll up … what a fun day was had by all at this year’s circus-themed Community Day! (Read more about it in the Hampshire Chronicle.)

On 11 May the Parish of St Matthew with St Paul hosted a vibrant and colourful celebration in the glorious spring sunshine. It was a wonderful mix of many old favourites such as the bouncy castle, animal farm, face-painting, hair-braiding and stalls overflowing with hidden treasures. Visitors were treated to lots of local produce: delicious homemade cakes, ice-cream, burgers and hot-dog sausages, plus refreshing Alfred Brewery’s beer and local gin.

The musical backdrop kept visitors entertained as our very own in-house barbershop quartet delighted us with two performances, along with Will Ridpath partnering with his godson. And our huge thanks to the stallholders, who respected our aspiration to keep our carbon footprint to a minimum by using biodegradable products and having plenty of washer-uppers on hand throughout the day.

And this was just the start! We were blessed to have our regular performances from Florian School of Dance, St Paul’s Pre-school and Western Church Primary School, and with our circus theme, we almost raised the roof with all our performers setting their routines to the soundtrack of the hit musical The Greatest Showman. A wonderful opening number was choreographed by Integr8 Dance, and we rounded the day off with a jaw-dropping display by Bristol-based aerialist Phoebe Hoyle of Cirque de Silk. She wowed a full church with her acrobatic skills within the beautiful circus tent created by our talented Sandra Lewis and Barney Lynch.

And who can forget the competitions? We had an array of dogs skilfully compared and co-ordinated by the Lucas family. The categories were: Cutest, Fastest, Jumpiest, Rescue and Looks Most Like Its Owner (and, yes, we had a winner for this final category!). Steve Brine MP and local dog walker Clare Harper from Your PetPal judged the competition, and it’s fair to say that the best dogs won (no bias on the part of the Community Day organisers!!).

No sooner had celebrations ended after the dog show than we were running the circus costume competition, ably judged by Bill Lucas and Mollie Stannard, who is also responsible for these wonderful photos. We were thrilled to see a couple of double acts … in the shape of our rector Peter and Julia Seal along with Adrian and Denise McKenzie. We won’t easily erase the image of Peter sweeping the floor (and people’s feet) in his crazy clown outfit! And it is that lasting image which sums up the essence of this wonderful day – it allowed us all to connect with our inner clown.

Huge thanks to so many people who gave so much of their time, energy, talent and wisdom, and especially to the organisers Kat and Adrienne Marsden and Roger Jones, backed up by Mary Copping. It takes more than one person to organise this day … it takes a community.