Christmas for Royal Navy Officer Martin Scutt will be different this year - as he spends it miles away from family and friends in the South Atlantic.
Surgeon Lieutenant Commander Scutt, 42, of Ryde in Hampshire, is serving on board Royal Navy Ice Patrol Ship, HMS Protector, in the South Atlantic – one of 4 Royal Navy Ships deployed to the region this Christmas.
In true naval tradition the ship’s doctor, will join his fellow officers in serving Christmas dinner to the rest of the sailors on board – a switch in the day-to-day routine – while his wife Christine and her family enjoy their Christmas lunch back in Ryde, Isle of Wight.
Maxine Richardson, who lives in Portsmouth, will be spending Christmas in the South Atlantic after she was deployed with one of the 4 Royal Navy ships in the region this year.
She'll be based on HMS Clyde, a Portsmouth-based ship, which is permanently stationed in the South Atlantic to deliver security to the area.
Maxine, 42, will be enjoying Christmas dinner abroad while her two children will be back in Portsmouth and her parents enjoying Christmas in the Caribbean.
A Naval sailor from Fareham in Hampshire who is serving on board HMS Kent in the Gulf has sent a special message to his fiancee and 11-month-old daughter.
Paul Howe, 27, joined the Navy in January 2013 and so this is his first deployment and although missing friends and family, he says he is enjoying the job.
What does Christmas mean to you? A time for family, friends - forgiveness?. Well for children - it is, of course, one of the most exciting times of the year - the prospect of Father Christmas visiting and leaving a special something in return for a glass of sherry and a mince pie.
It's also a time of the annual school nativity. Fred went along to one primary to get a 'Child's Eye' view of Christmas.
A scuba-diving Santa Claus took time off from preparing for Christmas by taking the plunge at Hastings’ Blue Reef Aquarium.
The fearless Father Christmas was joined by one of his elf helpers as they donned scuba gear and entertained surprised visitors to the Rock-a-Nore Road attraction.
The sub-aquatic Saint Nick temporarily shared the giant tropical ocean display with a variety of sharks, rays and hundreds of brightly coloured reef fish.
Blue Reef’s Leanna Lawson said: “Several metres underwater may not be the first place you’d expect to come face to face with Father Christmas.
“It just goes to show there really isn’t anywhere Santa can’t deliver presents – and it’s certainly a lot warmer than the North Pole."
With Christmas approaching, many of us are stressing over how to get that special dinner right. But could you do it for 84p per person?Read the full story ›
With Christmas rapidly approaching, many of us will already been stressing over how to get that special dinner right. And probably spending an awful lot of money in the process! .
So is there a cheaper way to provide a festive family feast? One cookery expert from Sussex certainly thinks so. Lesley Cooper reckons she can make Christmas dinner for under a pound per person. Malcolm Shaw reports.
A team of food scientists has come up with a low-calorie Christmas dinner so jockeys can enjoy festive fare without failing the weigh-in.
The average Brit gets through thousands of calories on Christmas Day but Dr Rachel Edwards-Stuart, who spent three years working with Berkshire-based chef Heston Blumenthal, and Miguel Toribio-Mateas, chairman of the British Association for Applied Nutrition & Nutritional Therapy, have created a 294 calorie meal.
The team, recruited by bookmakers William Hill, was asked to come up with a meal for the jockeys racing over the festive period who normally restrict themselves to crackers and water.
They used modern cooking techniques to come up with a meal including turkey gel, dehydrated Brussel sprouts, potato foam and cranberry air.
Champion jockey AP McCoy, who is riding on Boxing Day, said it was "a great invention" that would let him join in with his family at Christmas.
He said: "I always used to feel a bit left out when they all started tucking in to their turkey so this year I am looking forward to enjoying the full flavours of Christmas lunch, without having to worry about the calories."
Celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, we remember that he is the light who brings us out of darkness. As it says in Isaiah: “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shined” (Isaiah 9:2).
We celebrate Christmas just after the shortest day in the year, at a time when light begins to re-enter the world, taking us out of the darkest days of winter. The coming of light is a sign of hope, and reflects that hope which Jesus brings to our world. St John says in his Gospel that Jesus “gives life to the world” (John 6:33) through his birth. In amongst the hustle and bustle of preparations for Christmas, we might ask ourselves, how do we bring light and hope to our communities?
Over the past year, people in parishes across Hampshire and Dorset have been thinking about their answers to this question, as we seek to nurture the mission taking place within our communities in Winchester Diocese. Living the mission of Jesus may sound like an impossible challenge, but put simply, it means that we aim to live out our Christian faith by becoming agents of social transformation in our local communities and working for their benefit.
This year we became the first Diocese in the country to appoint an Archdeacon for Mission Development, a senior priest who is supporting our work in this area. We’re proud that recent figures from the national Church showed that over 2,700 volunteers from our churches are supporting children, young people and families across Hampshire and East Dorset, a figure which represents nearly 1,000 more volunteers than the national average. However, we want to grow this work further, and next year we will be looking to explore even more ways in which we can offer support to local people.
In doing this I hope that we too will “give life to the world”, seeking, like Jesus, to be beacons of hope for our local communities. As we celebrate the birth of Jesus this month, my thoughts and prayers will be for all who strive to make a positive difference to their local communities, especially here in Winchester Diocese.
I wish you all a truly happy Christmas and New Year.
Nine more days until Christmas Day and there's still lots of wrapping to be done. This Thursday is the deadline for second class post - so you'd better get on with it. Part of the problem, though, is how to wrap your presents up nicely. David Wood has been to meet a wrapping expert to get some top tips.