Thou­sands gather for huge carol spec­tac­u­lar

City cen­tre packed as Arch­bishop at­tends fes­tive fundraiser

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Front Page - By Gerry War­ren gwar­ren@thek­m­ @Ger­ry_war­ren

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.

FM5033854; FM5033838

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

Pic­tures: Chris Davey FM5033833

The con­gre­ga­tion in Rose Square

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