Thousands gather for huge carol spectacular
City centre packed as Archbishop attends festive fundraiser
Thousands of people packed the city centre for one of the highlights of the festive calendar on Christmas Eve.
Huge crowds gathered for the community carol singing organised by the Lord Mayor of Canterbury’s Christmas Gift Fund.
The hugely popular event was attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby and raised £5,296 – just shy of the £5,555 record achieved last year.
Sheila Cragg, who is chairman of the charity which provides 500 festive grocery parcels and gift vouchers to the needy, said: “I never cease to be amazed at the generosity of the crowd. We are so grateful.”
But security was also high, with barriers installed in the High Street in the wake of terrorist attacks using vehicles to drive through crowds. Mrs Cragg said: “I’m afraid it is a sign of the times and was a requirement as part of our planning.
“With the Archbishop’s attendance, it is obviously a high-profile event and I’m sure provided some reassurance to those attending.”
The singing was conducted by Grenville Hancox and supported by St Stephen’s church choir and the Canterbury Salvation Army band, led by Martin Neeve for the 33rd year.
Milton Boland, 11, received rousing applause after singing the solo first verse of Once in Royal David’s City.
The Archbishop gave his Christmas message based on the words of Brendan Cox, husband of murdered MP Jo Cox, on Twitter.
He encouraged everyone to take a moment to imagine losing the person they love most and what they wished they had said to them, and then take a moment to say it.
Left, Maddy Carter, Steph Cobourn and Stacie Carter in full voice; right, Sheila Cragg, Archbishop Justin Welby, Lord Mayor Cllr Rosemary Doyle, Bishop of Dover Trevor Willmott and conductor Grenville Hancox
The congregation in Rose Square