Members of several local churches gave ‘free hugs’ to surprised shoppers in Burnham-On-Sea town centre on Saturday (May 12th).

Burnham Community Church joined up with the Gospel Tabernacle Church and Poole Lighthouse Church for the outreach event in the High Street.

Passers-by were offered a free hug ‘to show the love of God’ while children and families were also invited to take part in craft activities.

“The free hugs generated a lot of interest and it was wonderful to see so many smiles on people’s faces,” said one of the team, Becky Saunders.

Karen Goudie, from the Lighthouse Church, added: “Events like this really brighten the mood and get people talking and it even generated a few emotional tears! We heard from one lady who who hadn’t been hugged in 15 years.”

Pastor Kelton Black, Minister of Highbridge’s Gospel Tabernacle, said the event had been a great success. “Many stopped and were encouraged with the things we are doing,” he said. “This event is part of a weekend called ‘Hope Encounter’ where the churches share with our communities that we care.”

A free breakfast and short service is also being held today, Sunday May 13th, at 10am in Highbridge Community Hall in Market Street. And an open mic music and evening with food is being held at St John Ambulance Hall in Bank Street from 6-9pm this evening when all are welcome.