Nearly 400 pupils from 11 local primary schools did their bit to help transform the lives of some of the UK’s most vulnerable children by attending a special Christingle celebration at Newcastle Cathedral.

The pupils were among the hundreds of people at the service – which was organised by The Children’s Society and was among the largest of the thousands held across the country by the national charity every winter to raise vital funds for its work providing life-changing support to children and young people.

The Revd Kate Bottley, known for her appearances on hit TV show Gogglebox, was the guest speaker at the service, which was led by Canon Clare MacLaren from the cathedral.

Christingle services include singing and storytelling for children and adults and revolve around children creating Christingles – an orange decorated with red ribbon, cocktail sticks, sweets and a candle, each highlighting different parts of the Christian story.

On the morning of the service the school pupils took part in activities including making Christingles, arts and crafts and learning about The Children’s Society.  They have also been organising fundraising activities through their schools.

During the service hymns and prayers were followed by speakers giving examples of some of The Children’s Society’s work, which in Newcastle includes supporting children who go missing from home and care, those affected by sexual exploitation, and refugee families.

Revd Bottley then involved pupils in explaining the meanings behind Christingle before wowing everyone by transforming herself into a giant Christingle orange.

The service ended in spectacular style when the candles on hundreds of oranges held by the school pupils  were lit.

Across the country, around one million people attend Christingles from November until Candlemas on February 2, the day of the Newcastle Cathedral Christingle, which is regarded as the official end of the Christmas season.

Christingle has been celebrated to raise funds for The Children’s Society for 48 years.  Last year, the charity was able to work with more than 18,000 children with the help of the generous donations made at Christingles.  It is aiming to match the £1.2m it raised in 2015/16 through this winter’s services, which were launched by Eastenders actress June Brown.

Helen Whiteley, Regional Fundraising Manager for The Children’s Society in the North East, said: “We were thrilled to hold this Christingle service at Newcastle Cathedral and to involve so many local school children.

“Not only are our Christingles a memorable spectacle, they help The Children’s Society to transform the lives of the most vulnerable children in our society, both in the North East and across the country, and to ensure their voices are heard.

“We are enormously grateful for the support of the Church of England, local schools, members of the public, and both The Revd Kate Bottley and June Brown – both in supporting the dozens of Christingles already held this winter across the North East, and in helping us ensure this new service was a success.”

Canon Clare MacLaren, said: “We were really excited to host this Christingle service and to welcome almost 400 children and the amazing Rev Kate Bottley.

“Behind all the fun lies a serious message, though – raising funds to support the crucial work of The Children’s Society with some of the most vulnerable kids in our society.  The Christingle candles symbolise the hope which drives their work – and our prayers for a good childhood for every child.”

The Revd Kate Bottley said: “By supporting children and young people in our communities who are often facing harrowing and complex issues, The Children’s Society shines a light of hope in the darkest corners, and it’s a light that goes on long after Christingle is over.

“All the family come along to Christingle services because they are so visual and exciting.  For children and adults alike, going to a Christingle service may be one of their first experiences of going to church and gives people the opportunity to create warm memories that they can share together as a family.”