Parishioners that turned a church into a winter wonderland are celebrating after its efforts raised more than £1,000 for charity.

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Thetford Methodist Church, in Tanner Street, held its 15th annual Christmas Tree Festival from December 10 to 15 with funds raised going to Mind.

The festival saw 60 trees brought indoors, with a range of groups from throughout the community chipping in to decorate them.

Groups from six local schools, the cubs, brownies, Thetford Singers, Thetford Flower Club and more got creative to give their tree a dash of Christmas sparkle.

There were also quilts, displays, pictures and more, designed by volunteers.

Neville Hodson, a member of the church, said the year’s theme had been “the family at Christmas”.

“We try and come up with a different theme every year and this year’s theme was on the family, especially the holy family.

“The idea is to bring a bit of joy and happiness, and the atmosphere of what Christmas is all about to people.

“We’ve had hundreds and hundreds of people visit the church this year and we wanted to give them a taste of the season,” he said.

Lunches were also held as part of the festival as well as a quiz in which 15 teams took part.

A school service was also held, with the festival being bookended by a switch-on and closing service.

Mr Hodson said the festival would not have been possible without the generosity of volunteers and community groups.

“It’s a real team effort and so many people, from the ones who put in the boards to stand the trees on to wiring up the electrics or doing the lunches, have made it happen,” he said.

The festival was inspired by Val Richards, wife of former Reverend, Les Richards.

She had seen the idea work at another church and felt the methodist church could do something similar.

The event has “grown and grown” since then, according to Mr Hodson.

Mind was selected as the chosen charity by church member Jackie Smith. Mrs Smith also designed two quilts for the festival.

Many of the trees will now stay in the church throughout the Christmas period.

A cheque will be presented to Mind in the New Year.

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