NEARLY 2000 people attended this year's Christmas Tree Festival in Penarth.

The festival held at St Augustine's Church on the weekend of December 9-10 attracted 48 entries from local schools, businesses, charities, organisations and individuals which organisers say colourfully decorated the side aisles of the church and displayed the inventiveness and originality of the participants.

The festival was opened by town mayor, Cllr Ken Lloyd.

Judges were on hand to pick out the winners in the various categories.

In the business category, gold went to Sew Lovely, silver to Rowley's the Jewellers and bronze went to Judith Martin-Jones Glass Designs.

In the charity category gold was awarded to Tools with a Mission, silver to Muscular Dystrophy UK and bronze to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Wales/

Albert Primary School and Evenlode Primary School won gold in the children's category with Cylch Meithrin Bethel and Ysgol Pen y Garth getting silver and bronze going to the Tea, Toast and Toys Playgroup.

The family category saw Mrs P Hoare and Miss C Preece pick up the gold with the Hill family achieving silver and Val Baker, Sue Plenty and Debbie Court winning the bronze.

The group category gold went to Penarth Nativity Trail with silver going to Friends of Penarth Library and bronze going to Eco Stanwell.

Penarth Lawn Tennis Club won the organisation category gold with Croeso Penarth picking up silver and Soroptimist International Barry and District getting bronze.

During the course of the festival the public voted for their favourite tree and Albert Primary School with Evenlode winning silver and bronze going to Sew Lovely.

There was a varied programme of live music throughout the festival performed by local choirs, musicians and individuals.

The children of the friends of Belle Vue park made lanterns at the park on Saturday afternoon and with them lit visited the church to sing carols and to close the festival on Saturday evening.

The festival was closed on Sunday evening with a concert organised by Robert Court featuring Benjamin Britten's "A Ceremony of Carols" and other festive favourites including a rendition of "O Holy Night" as the finale - a truly

The charities supported this year were the Patagonia Instruments Project, Muscular Dystrophy UK and the Huggard Centre in Cardiff. A

At present the final total is unknown but it is hoped that each charity will receive at least £800.