HUNDREDS of residents watched in awe as thousands of colourful fairy lights illuminated Old Basing recreation ground.

More than 400 people gathered to celebrate the parish council's first 'Christmas in the Rec' event during the evening of Friday, December 22, which raised over £750 for charity.

Residents of all ages joined together for a festive sing-along, warmed by mulled wine and hot chocolate, plus a variety of festive bakes provided by the ladies of the Old Basing Village Café, as they belted out Christmas carols.

Lyrics were displayed on a large screen suspended between two oak trees, with printed song sheets also handed out and QR codes enabling those more IT literate to download the song sheet onto their phones - there was no excuse for anyone not to join in. 

Father Christmas also made a surprise visit, delivering chocolates to the children.

The event was organised by Old Basing and Lychpit Parish Council after being approached by Old Basing resident, Johnny Hammond, who hosted the sing-along and got everyone into the festive spirit ahead of Christmas.

Parish office staff and helpers alongside volunteers from the Village Café were kept busy in the Pavilion Tea Room, ensuring everyone had a hot drink and a delicious bake which were provided free of charge thanks to a grant from county councillor Elaine Still. 

The event managed to raise over £750 for the parish council's chosen charity - St Michael's Hospice - and following the success, it is likely to become an annual celebration in Old Basing.