Carol Service 2017

 As always, St Augustine’s Church was a very welcoming venue for our Carol Concert guests, with smiling students at the door greeting families and friends, twinkling warm fairy lights surrounding their seats and a large Christmas tree at the front.

After an introduction from the Principal, the service began with James Barton reading a message from the Hands Up Foundation. The Hands Up Foundation aims to raise money for those affected by the civil war in Syria, which has been raging since 2011, through a programme called Singing for Syrians. The collection at the end of our service was for this charity. The reading included a report from Dr Ahmed (whose name was changed to protect his identity), a doctor practising in Syria. Dr Ahmed described the daily struggle to treat his patients including his long and dangerous commute; the lack of funds, facilities and staff in his hospital; and the risks he takes simply to do his job – Dr Ahmed has previously been arrested for treating patients. The congregation were clearly moved by the message, read by James Barton on Dr Ahmed’s behalf. We are very grateful to everyone who donated at the end of the service, helping us to raise £254.36for the Hands Up Foundation.

The singing began with a solo of the first verse of Once In Royal David’s City by Allegra von Opel which the audience then joined in with. This was followed by a number of other performances and readings: two further wonderful solos were performed by Katie Milner (Oh Holy Night) and Jessie Venegas-Garcia (Silent Night) as well as an instrumental piece by Richard McMillan. We are also grateful to the following for their entertaining, thought-provoking readings, and those giving us the Christmas Message: Annas Kaaki; Tommy Mondal and Eliza Stuttaford; James Barton; Theo Payne; Richard Berlie; Rex Money and Laura Payne; and Angela Berkeley-Owen. The very talented Allegra von Opel ended the service with a fun rendition of Mariah Carey’s All I Want For Christmas Is You, after which the congregation enjoyed some mulled wine and mince pies.

As always, we are very grateful to our student and staff performers for providing such beautifully festive entertainment and to Maya Waterstone, who tireless hard work every year allows us to enjoy a lovely end to the term and start to the Christmas holidays.

Jo Carter