THIS year has seen a number of significant 50th anniversaries here in Greater Manchester - from the end of cotton trading at Manchester’s Royal Exchange to my personal favourite, Manchester United becoming the first English winners of the European Cup.
But the landmark birthday on my mind as the Christmas season gets ever nearer is a national anniversary being marked by The Children’s Society.
In 1968 our charity’s first ever Christingle service was held at Lincoln Cathedral, the brainchild of fundraiser John Pensom.
Christingle services encourage children to make the Christingle – the iconic orange decorated using red ribbon, cocktail sticks, sweets and a candle, each highlighting different parts of the Christian story.
Christingle has gone from strength to strength over the decades and is an important part of The Children’s Society’s partnership with The Church of England, which ● Rob Jackson began when our charity was founded by a Sunday school teacher in 1881.
It is now our biggest fundraising event and the money generously donated enables us to support children and young people throughout the year.
For too many vulnerable young people, Christmas Day is a day like any other, feeling alone and facing the same challenges and worries.
The Children’s Society believes no child should feel alone and, through our 50th anniversary Christingle campaign, we want to change that.
Last year’s Christingle raised nearly £1.1m, including more than £17,000 from 17 services across Manchester Diocese.
Here in Greater Manchester, we helped more than 1,100 children and young people in 2017-18, including children missing from home or care and young unaccompanied refugees.
I see directly how we change the lives of children feeling alone and unable to cope.
Now as we celebrate this milestone year, we hope Christingle will be bigger and better than ever, enabling us to support more children in desperate need of help.
I’m excited to tell you about a new piece of music created specially to mark the anniversary, which will be performed at some of the services.
The song, Light a Candle, was composed by Louise Drewett, a student at the Royal Academy of Music, and the words have been written by poet Clare Shaw.
You can hear the Christingle song, search for services registered near you and find out more at www.childrens society.org. uk/christingle.
If you’ve not been to church for a while, or have never been, a Christingle service is a fantastic reason to visit and offers a memorable family spectacle. But above all it is a wonderful way to help us support some of Greater Manchester’s most vulnerable children. We couldn’t do it without you.