SINGING, Santa, and stocking-fillers were all on offer for the inaugural Leys Community Market.

Residents have been working on plans for a community market for the Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys estates since January and the first event was held at the Barn in Nightingale Avenue on Saturday.

More than 100 people flocked to the market to do some Christmas shopping, catch up with friends and enjoy the festive atmosphere.

Katie Chester, who is on the steering group for the event, said: “It’s fantastic, just really exciting to see it all coming to fruition at last.

“We see it as a resource for the community, providing affordable fresh food, and also a place for people to meet, have something to eat and drink at the cafe, and share skills.”

As well as 16 stalls selling everything from food to books, gifts, jewellery, clothes and festive items, there was also a children’s activities corner with a festive theme, and an opportunity to learn how to knit – the idea being that there will be different skills shared at each market.

Oxford Sea Cadets were in attendance, offering Christmas trees for sale, and music was provided by Singing for Fun for the Over-50s group, a joint initiative from the Leys Community Development Initiative and Joined Up Singing.

Jean Dyer, 73, from Frys Court, Greater Leys, was among those singing.

She said: “The Leys really needs something like this to get people together.

“You meet people you haven’t seen for a long time – it’s really good.”

And fellow singer Rita Declerk, 66, from Cowley, said: “It’s absolutely brilliant, fantastic.

“Everyone’s put so much effort in and it’s absolutely lovely.”

Lesley Coleman, 68, from Pegasus Road, stocked up on some Christmas vegetables from The People’s Supermarket stall.

She said: “I think it’s a very good idea.

“I’m impressed by the turn-out and the stalls.”

Oxford Polish Association was among the organisations which had stalls at the event.

Milena Rygielski was handing out poppy cakes to marketgoers.

She said: “The atmosphere is excellent and all the people are really, really lovely.”

Gareth Price, of the People’s Supermarket, in Cowley Road, Oxford, said he was impressed with the event.

He said: “I wasn’t expecting live music which is a bit different for a market.

“It’s nice to see quite a big range of stuff and I think it’s a great idea.”

A community meal will be held at the Barn on January 19 for people living nearby who want to get involved in the market.

The next markets will take place on February 16 and March 16, after which a decision will be taken on how regularly they should be held.