ESSEX Chambers of Commerce held its annual Whitebait Festival, to give thanks for the fruits of the sea.

The traditional and historic celebration was held in the Maritime Room at the Cliffs Pavilion, in Westcliff, on Wednesday.

The event welcomed a number of guests, including Southend’s mayor and mayoress, and Southend district commander, Inspector Ian Hughes, of Essex Police.

The Afternoon Orchestra provided spectacular themed music as part of its “Blessing of the Catch” service, to commemorate the town’s fishermen.

The event included a three-course lunch with whitebait as one of the starter choices.

Originally established in the 18th century, the festival used to be held on the Thames at Greenwich.

In 1934, the Chamber of Commerce revived the event, and has been proud to organise it ever since.

Representing Essex Chambers this year was chief executive officer, Denise Rossiter.

All money raised from a collection which took place at the event will be donated to the mayor’s charity fund.

Donna Gale, Whitebait Festival organiser, said: “This traditional event remains ever popular with chamber members.”

She added: “More than 60 guests packed the restaurant to enjoy a three course lunch with of course whitebait as one of the starter choices.”