THEY rolled up in their hundreds to support a Winchester church’s community day.

Around 800 people were at St Paul’s in Fulflood to see it transformed into a circus Big Top and help raise £5,500 towards its improvement project which is soon to start.

Aerial acrobatics brought the day to a jaw-dropping finale. Phoebe Hoyle of Cirque de Silk wowed a packed church as she hung upside-down from the trapeze, winding herself through a hoop and strips of fabric to reach dizzying heights.

There were performances by children and local organisations: Florian School of Dance as well as youngsters from St Paul’s Pre-school and Western Church School. A mixed-age group of youngsters supported by Integr8 Dance performed ‘Come alive!’ from blockbuster film The Greatest Showman.

A Pimm’s & beer tent and BBQ as well as a Clown Café, toasted marshmallows and drifts of candyfloss ensured visitors weren’t hungry as they listened to St Paul’s very own barbershop quartet and music from the city’s best-known busker Marvin Naylor.

The intrepid rector, Canon Peter Seal, dressed in a generously-sized clown outfit tried out the bouncy castle.

A fun dog show brought out the human and canine competitive spirit as the judges, including city MP Steve Brine and his daughter Emily assessed who looked most like their dog.

The day was opened by the Mayor, Cllr Frank Pearson, in one of his last engagements.

This year’s event was organised by Adrienne Marsden, who talked about the circus idea: “My daughter, Kat (age 10), was very keen that this year we take the helm of organising the event, and so had to come up with our theme! We both thoroughly enjoyed The Greatest Showman and it struck me that, by having a circus topic, we could allow people’s theatrical imagination to run wild!"

Peter Seal said: “We celebrated all that it means to be part of a community. It’s more than just a group of people living in a particular area or sharing a particular set of values and beliefs.”