Community remembers true meaning of Christmas at The News carol service

THE NEWS hosted its annual Christmas Carol Service at St Mary’s Church with an estimated 500 people celebrating the event.

Sunday, 8th December 2019, 2:23 pm
Updated Thursday, 12th December 2019, 8:54 am

Families and schoolchildren joined dignitaries including Stephen Morgan MP and city council leader, Gerald Vernon-Jackson, to sing classic carols including Silent Night and Hark the Herald Angels Sing. The News mascot, Chipper the dog, even made a special appearance.

Stars of the service were the children of Manor and Penhale Infant Schools and Newbridge Junior School who wowed the congregation with their Christmas songs.

Manor Infant’s head teacher, Helen Castle, said: ‘This was my first carol service in this beautiful church and I’m so proud of the children. They have been rehearsing since October and their performance was so enthusiastic.’

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School Children with candles Picture: Keith Woodland (081219-148)

The highlight of the service for many was the lighting of the Christingles – a symbol to represent Jesus at Christmas – which was followed by a rousing candlelit rendition of Away in a Manger.

Five-year-old Alex Moles said: ‘The Christingles were fun and my favourite song was Away in a Manger.’

Despite the pressures of an electioneering Mr Morgan and Mr Vernon-Jackson were determined to attend the event.

‘I used to attend Penhale and Newbridge schools and I always love coming to St Mary’s,’ said Mr Morgan.

Anna Webb, Headteacher at Newbridge Junior School Picture: Keith Woodland (081219-102)

‘Christmas wouldn’t be Christmas without enjoying a carol service,’ added Mr Vernon-Jackson.

For the Neilson family, the service is something they look forward to each year.

Mick Neilson said: ‘For us it marks the beginning of Christmas and it really brings the community together. My favourite carol is In the Bleak Midwinter.’

Wife, Sharon Neilson, added: ‘It was beautiful to hear the children sing. I think the service brings people to St Mary’s who don’t ordinarily go to church.’

School Children with candles Picture: Keith Woodland (081219-170)

It’s a sentiment shared by minister, Father Bob White.

‘Events such as these help to break down barriers with the church and engage with people who don’t always come to church. With the support of The News we have been running the service since before I came to the parish and that’s over 20 years ago. It’s great fun and an opportunity for people in the local community to celebrate Christmas together,’ said Father Bob.

For Bob it also provides a time to remember the true meaning of Christmas.

‘Presents and parties are all good but the service allows us to stand back and see Christmas from a different perspective and reflect on the underlying messages of love and sharing something special with other people,’ said Bob.

Picture: Keith Woodland (081219-48)

With Father Bob’s message in mind many members of the congregation made a donation to the Comfort and Joy Christmas appeal to support 11 local charities.