Daily Express

Mass carol singers face ban

- By Ruth Cassidy

A HUGE open air carol service attended by the Archbishop of Canterbury that has been running for more than 70 years faces the axe over health and safety fears.

Proceeds from the service help buy hundreds of Christmas hampers and gifts for deprived families and the elderly.

But now organisers of the Christmas Eve community carol singing in Canterbury, Kent, are considerin­g pulling the plug after concerns were raised by charity volunteers.

The popular event, which attracts huge crowds, is an open-air concert in the city centre and was first held in 1952.

But it is feared there are too few volunteers to manage the thousands likely to come.

The Lord Mayor of Canterbury’s Christmas Gift Fund, which runs the service, said: “We are very sad to advise you that the Community Carol Singing on Christmas Eve in Rose Square, Canterbury, will not take place this year.

“We are a small committee of volunteers and the requiremen­ts to ensure that the event goes ahead safely is beyond what we can do.

“Whilst it is very disappoint­ing we have neverthele­ss continued to distribute gifts for those in need and have spent over £13,000 to ensure many of our neighbours will have had help.”

The announceme­nt caused sadness among the many long-term attendees, one of whom said: “I have attended this event since childhood, so for 70 years, and it’s the start of Christmas for me. I’m gutted but so pleased the charity is still able to continue.” Another regular attendee said: “That is such a blow. As a family we have supported it since the very beginning.”

However, the Lord Mayor of Canterbury Jean Butcher said not all hope was lost.

She revealed the council is in talks with the charity and Whitefriar­s shopping centre, which has hosted the event in recent years, with the goal of saving it.

City council leader Alan Baldock added: “We’re very anxious it does go ahead. We’re pulling out all the stops and we’re optimistic.

“We understand just how important this carol service is to the people of Canterbury.”

The Lord Mayor of Canterbury’s Christmas Gift Fund and Canterbury City Council have been contacted for further informatio­n. Whitefriar­s declined to comment.

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Festive...packed crowds join the fun

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