Singing in festive season

Good cheer was in abundance tonight as people came together at the annual EDP Festival of Carols.

Good cheer was in abundance tonight as people came together at the annual EDP Festival of Carols.

Hundreds flocked to the sell-out charity event, held at St Andrew's Hall in Norwich, despite the cold, foggy weather.

A rousing rendition of Joy to the World got things off to a merry start with other favourites including Once in Royal David's City, Hark! the Herald Angels Sing and O Come All Ye Faithful also in the programme.

Canon Ivan Bailey, who has compèred the evening for more than 10 years, said: “I still look forward to it even after all these years, and if I wasn't compèring I'd come along anyway.

“It is a very relaxed evening in the run-up to Christmas which lets us celebrate the true meaning behind the celebration – the birth of Christ.”

The EDP Festival Choir and the Broadland Youth Choir, conducted by Carole Tims, were joined by the Anglian Singers, new this year. They were in fine voice in a variety of music, both as individual groups and together.

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Jingle Bells, Rockin', Rollin' Reindeer and Jesus Child were among the other Christmas songs that echoed around the historic hall, which was bedecked with grand festive decorations.

Mrs Tims said: “We started to plan this event in February and began rehearsing in September. The Festival Choir only get together for five weeks in the autumn and then perform but the Broadland Youth Choir meet all year round.

“I feel this is really the start of Christmas and I hope people go home tapping their feet and singing one of the carols.”

Great Yarmouth Brass performed a number of songs without the singers, including Frosty the Snowman and Twelve Days of Christmas.

Bassoonist Eleanor Skeate and accompanist Claire McArthur performed four pieces, with organist Alan Morris and accompanist John Barham also in the spotlight.

In between the music, readings were given by Peter Franzen, editor of the EDP, James Ruddy, deputy editor, Peter Wilson, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal, and Chris Southgate, the city's Lord Mayor.

Mr Franzen said: “For me at least, the EDP Festival of Carols always marks the beginning of the real Christmas celebrations rather than the commercial hype that seems to run from early October.”

The EDP We Care Appeal aims to raise £1m to establish the Norfolk Millennium Trust which will provide long-lasting support to an estimated 110,000 unpaid carers in Norfolk. The EDP Breast Cancer Appeal is raising £200,000 for an integrated unit at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in King's Lynn.

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