MORE than 300 children celebrated Christmas by taking part in a procession through Bettws last night.

As part of the Bettws Winter Lantern Parade organised by Newport City Homes, children used lanterns they had made at school.

It started at Don Close Nursery, proceeded down Lambourne Way and finished at the Bettws shopping centre.

Sam Howells, Newport City Homes’ Neighbourhood Officer, said the event had first been held in Bettws schools but has now expanded to include those in Malpas and Shaftesbury.

And Communities First paid for buses to and from Malpas and Shaftesbury so people from those areas could attend the procession.

She said: "It's amazing how many people have turned up. It's gone really well - over 1,300 lanterns were made by the children.

"The support has been great from parents and the community. The local PCSO's have been helping out which is just brilliant."

"This is out first time organising this event. The community of betted are a very supportive community anyway. We involved more schools from the area and community groups to take part this year. "

The deputy mayor of Newport Cllr Trevor Watkins switched on the event’s Christmas lights.

There was a Santa’s grotto and children were given a voucher for a free packet of chips from the Bettws Fish Bar at the end of the procession.

And the Spar store in Bettws gave the event £100 from their community fund.

Upbeat Music and Arts’ David Powell led the procession with his Samba band.

Nathan Sheen, a Newport artist, worked with pupils from all the schools in north Newport schools to create the lanterns.

At least 1,300 lanterns, which are fitted with battery-powered LED lights, were prepared for the event.

He said: “It’s been great to break the school day up. I know the primary schools are getting excited with nativity plays but we’ve had a really good response from the parents.”

Sian Wills, mother of Emily, year 3 pupil at Millbrook primary, said: "We came down for the kids. We've been before but this is the first time for Millbrook primary. We're really enjoying it. Emily hasn't got the lantern she made but she doesn't seem to mind. "

Rhian Hurley, 31, secretary, mum of Evan, 10, year 6 pupil from Ysgol Ifor Hael, said: "It's my sons last year at the school so we wanted to get involved. I am quite surprised at the turn out.

"This is our first time here. Evan made the lantern by himself at school."

Tracey Satchell, caretaker of Shastesbury Community centre and grandmother to Evan, 3, and Emily, 4, said: "It's great for the kids to get involved in something like this. It is our first time here. Evan wanted lions on his lantern. The children are really excited and will be visiting Santa afterwards."