Portsmouth Cathedral service marks 'Pompey Heroes' who have gone above and beyond for the community

DESPITE the shadow cast over the region by coronavirus, people have shown their true colours and been a shining light in tough times.

Tuesday, 22nd December 2020, 7:00 am

From sacrificing their free time to help others, to supporting health workers in a time of crisis, individuals from Portsmouth and the surrounding area have rallied together to ensure the world keeps on turning.

Last night, a selection of these incredible people were invited to Portsmouth Cathedral for a celebration of their hard work and generosity, with The News serving as the event’s media partner.

The cathedral’s choir sang their hearts out and others stood to read the story of Jesus’ birth, in a socially distanced ceremony that still warmed the hearts of those in attendance.

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Dean of Portsmouth, Anthony Cane. Picture: Sarah Standing (211220-526)

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One of those who was invited along last night was 83-year-old Basil Price, from Old Portsmouth.

When lockdown started, Basil started an online diary of his daily escapades, which shot him to fame in the surrounding area for entertaining the masses.

He said it felt odd to be described as a ‘hero’ but was glad to have kept people uplifted during difficult times.

Portsmouth Cathedral held their Christmas Carol Service on Monday, December 21, attended by our Pompey Heroes. Picture: Sarah Standing (211220-502)

‘Apparently I became a bit of a Facebook sensation,’ he said.

‘You try to make it amusing because you know people are watching it – luckily there was plenty going on to laugh about.

‘It’s been so good to have something like this at the cathedral, to celebrate the nice things that have happened this year.’

The choir singing Christmas carols during the Pompey Heroes service at Portsmouth Cathedral. Picture: Sarah Standing (211220-9838)

Also at the event was Billy Shannon, head volunteer at Help Us Support Homeless (HUSH).

The introduction of national lockdowns, coronavirus tiers and more has changed the way they do things, but hasn’t stopped them from looking after those who need our help the most.

He said: ‘The service was lovely, it was nice to have something cheerful like this for Christmas.

‘It has been difficult to change what we do, but we’ve still been able to get out each week and give those people out on the streets a hot meal during the week.

Billy Shannon, head volunteer at Hush. Picture: Sarah Standing (211220-9795)

‘The hardest part has been not being able to give these people a hug when they need it.

‘We don’t do this to be recognised though – we just want to help people out and give to somebody less fortunate.’

From across Portsmouth Harbour, Malcolm Dent from Gosport had also been invited to the carol service.

A seasoned volunteer who has run the Gosportarians for a number of years, he was brought along for his work with the Red Box project – putting sanitary products into schools.

He said: ‘It’s something that was seriously needed and it’s been nice to represent Gosport at something like this.’

Dean of Portsmouth, Anthony Cane, was delighted to have hosted an event like this at the cathedral.

He hopes this will return in 2021, to continue celebrating the generosity of Portsmouth's finest.

‘This was a really special and uplifting evening,’ he said.

‘People have shown great compassion and commitment to others, and have made a real difference here in the city.

‘Seeing what everyone has done restores your faith in humanity – there are some wonderful people doing incredible things, but I imagine we’ll still need our 2020 Pompey Heroes next year.’

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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