HUNDREDS of people braved the wet, wintry conditions last week to come out in force for one of Marlow’s most cherished Christmas traditions.

Rain could not dampen the festive spirit as crowds gathered for the annual ‘Carols on the Causeway’ near All Saints Church on Thursday evening.

Families joined singers from the Marlow Choral Society to sing yuletide favourites around the town’s Christmas tree, with musical accompaniment from Marlow Town Band.

This year, organisers Marlow Town Council decided to extend the fun to the town’s schoolchildren with a special homemade lantern competition.

Mayor Suzanne Brown, who compered the junior edition of the carol concert and judged the lanterns, said: "We wanted the children to add some light to the town in the same way as we have added the lights to the Christmas Tree. It’s great they can be involved.

"It’s a shame because of the weather but it’s pretty impressive what some of them have made and brought along.

"We’ve always done the Carols on the Causeway but this is the first time we’ve done the lanterns. It was originally a suggestion from one of our councillors Phillip (Ditchfield) and we thought what a great idea.

"When you start something off for the first time it’s always takes time, so hopefully it will get bigger and better."

Six primary schools took part in the competition, which saw pupils making their own illuminated creations at home and school to bring to a special junior carol concert.

The crafty youngsters carried their lanterns through town before gathering around the tree to sing favourites including Away in a Manger and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.

Cllr Brown compered then announced the winners of the best festive lanterns from each school.

Leona Peggs took the crown for Danesfield School, Aisha Wahid scooped the best lantern for Foxes Piece, Harriet Evans won the award for Holy Trinity and Martha Robinson triumphed for Sandygate.

Finally, gongs were given to Alice Cogram for Spinfield School’s best lantern and Christopher Mantle creation was crowned the champion of St Peter’s.

The nearby George and Dragon pub supplied mulled wine, and Marlow Rotary Club provided hot roast chestnuts free of charge to cold, hungry choristers.

Carols on the Causeway is part of Marlow’s month-long Christmas festivities, which began the council’s light switch-on event in November and continued with Marlow Chamber of Trade’s popular late night shopping event in early December.