FAMILIES turned out to sing carols and meet Santa at a community store Christmas party.

Nearbuys Convenience Store in Dovervelt Road, Canvey, welcomed hundreds of people to their shop on Wednesday evening for the festive event.

Castle Point Mayor Andrew Sheldon was joined by Father Christmas to switch on Christmas lights, drink mulled wine and hear carols sung by children from Leigh Beck Junior School.

David Patient, owner of Nearbuys, said the night was a success.

He said: “It was fantastic. There were about 200 people here and it was a really good atmosphere. Everyone in the community got into it.”

The store has run similar events in the past but had a hiatus for the last few years before returning with what Mr Patient said was the best ever lights switch on.

He added: “This was one of the most successful. We had Leigh Beck here singing carols which went down very well and we had face painting, mulled wine and gave out goody bags.

“I would like to thank the Mayor, Santa, the local Rotary club Leigh Beck school and our great team of staff but most importantly our customers and local community for making this party such a success and we look forward to doing it again next year.”

Mayor Andrew Sheldon said: “It was a fantastic community event and a lovely way to start the Christmas period.

“I want to thank Nearbuys for everything and for persuading Santa to make time to come into the store in his busy schedule to meet all the children and switch on the Christmas lights with me.”