I have been fortunate to go to lots of carol services and Christmas concerts, and celebrate this time of year with music and singing.
The Willow Foundation, set up by Megs and Bob Wilson in memory of their daughter Anna, create Special Days for young adults with life threatening conditions and their service in St Albans Cathedral is always very well attended, with lovely singing from the Hertfordshire Chorus and music from the Enigma String Quartet. Music 24 held their dementia-friendly carol service in the beautiful 13th century church of St Etheldreda in Hatfield, with over 130 guests enjoying the singing and music in a relaxed and inclusive environment.
The Chief Fire Officer and Chief Constable jointly hosted their service in All Saints in Hertford, and afterwards we were treated to soup, sausage rolls and mince pies at the fire station and saw Santa arrive on a very tall aerial lift! There was not a spare seat at the concert by Broxbourne Community Choir who joined with local branches of U3A and the Broxbourne Hand bell Ringers for a lovely evening of music and readings at St Catherine’s and St Paul’s church in Hoddesdon.
I was pleased to join children enjoying both the Christmas story and the fun of parties and visits from Santa at this time of year. Bridge Builders Trust worked with 100 volunteers from local churches to bring the Christmas story to 1000 children in Stevenage, and at the Playskill Christmas party in Watford children with special needs up to the age of 5 enjoyed a visit to Santa in his sensory grotto, and fun and games.
Talented young people from the Momentum Performing Arts Academy in Bushey performed ‘Once upon a Fairytale’ and the Mayor of Hertsmere Rabi Alan Plancey and I were fortunate to be invited as guests.
Christmas is a difficult time for many, and the residents at HMP The Mount are amongst those who find it hard to be positive at this time of year. The Prison Chaplaincy team are important in bringing a message of hope, and I was pleased to be able to join some of the men and prison volunteers at a service at the prison, with the opportunity to chat over a cup of tea after.
My last service of the year was the wonderful candle lit Festival of Lessons and Carols at St Albans Cathedral, with a huge congregation enjoying the uplifting music in a beautiful setting.