HUNDREDS of people turned out for the milestone 30th annual Palm Sunday procession in Silchester.

The popular event, featuring re-enactors dressed as Roman soldiers, Alfie the donkey, and schoolchildren, recreated Jesus’ entry into the Roman-occupied city of Jerusalem.

The procession set off from Silchester Village Hall before making its way through the Drove to the ancient Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum.

The procession stopped three times for readings and hymns, before a service was held in St Mary the Virgin, a 12th-century church.

The Reverend Canon Ken Batt led the service and also acted as the guest of honour at the event, which has previously been attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Winchester.

Rev Batt said: “I’m the resident priest in Silchester, and as it was our 30th procession, we thought it would be fitting if I was to take on the main guest role, even though I am far from being a dignitary.

“It was a wonderful occasion. We had fantastic weather and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.”

During the procession, schoolchildren from Silchester C of E Primary School bible class Living Bible Club performed a dramatised reading of the Palm Sunday story.

Rev Batt said: “They were wonderful – it was a lovely performance by the girls. Everyone really enjoyed it, and it was a special part of the day.”

The event was organised by a team of people including Rev Batt and villager Marsden Jones, who has played a part in the procession for many years.

Music was provided by Tadley Concert Brass and, following the service, many of those present went for lunch at Silchester pub The Calleva Arms.