PEERING from under their rain-soaked umbrellas, crowds gazed as a parade of menacing masked characters took over Newbury's Northbrook Street with a haunting performance.

Big blue eyes in a hollow white face loomed over the audience and smoke billowed from the side roads as families braved the drizzle on Saturday [23] to see the town centre transformed.

The evening parade told the story of local legend John Ever Afraid, a gentle giant who has been hiding from the Devil in the walls of Aldworth Church,

Crowds watched as the 18-foot hero came out of hiding after 600 years, stumbling confused and bewildered through Newbury as the devil and his revellers sought to capture him - forcing John Ever Afraid to face his fears and outwit his foes.

The spectacle was performed by Irish outdoor theatre company, Macnas [corr] and the show, which included music and fireworks, was the culmination of a week of performances and workshops across West Berkshire.

It was organised by The Corn Exchange and designed to follow the success of last year's giant Insect Procession.

The Corn Exchange's director Katy Griffiths said "This has been an incredible project, working with an amazing creative team the Corn Exchange has delivered this event from scratch. Everyone in the district has embraced our story of The Berkshire Giant, and the involvement and support from the local community has been fantastic. I'm incredibly proud of what the team here have achieved."