A special Christmas carol service bringing together children and families from Cheshire who have faced a challenging year has taken place at Chester Zoo.
The concert – part of HRH The Princess of Wales’ Together at Christmas initiative – was one of 12 community carol services taking place across the UK, and was hosted by the Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, Alexis Redmond, and supported by The Royal Foundation.
The event was designed to bring some cheer to a number of families from across the region who have encountered a particularly challenging past 12 months, and to recognise some of those who have gone above and beyond to help others in the community.
The service, delivered by the Bishop of Chester, Mark Tanner, took place at Chester Zoo’s new wedding and events venue, The Square, which opened earlier this year.
Featuring singers and a host of musicians, who performed some of the nation’s most beloved carols, the concert also saw a mix of readings given by children in attendance.
Among the invited guests were children and their families, carers and teachers who have had a challenging year from three schools in Ellesmere Port and Chester; children from military families based at Dale Barracks, Chester, whose parents may be away at Christmas or may be recovering from active service; and young carers in the local community taking the burden of responsibility for their parent or other family member, together with their adult support volunteers from the charity, Cheshire Young Carers.
Amanda Berry, CEO, The Royal Foundation of The Prince and Princess of Wales said:
“I am delighted that this community carol service is part of our Together at Christmas initiative. Christmas is a time for being with others, and for remembering the hope that new life brings.
“This service, and the other community carol services across the UK, provide a wonderful opportunity to thank those incredible individuals helping the youngest members in our society in those crucial early years. We know just how important it is to build supportive, nurturing worlds around children and the adults in their lives.”
The zoo’s education team also staged additional activities for children and took guests to see the zoo’s Christmas Lanterns and Lights display.
Jamie Christon, the Zoo’s CEO, said:
“The concert was a moment to bring people together at Christmas time and shine a spotlight on some of those who have gone above and beyond in our community, as well as children and families who, for all sorts of different reasons, have faced an extremely challenging year.
“The zoo has long been a place where people come to make memories and we’re so proud to have hosted and help to put on such a special event for our community.”
Lady Redmond MBE, HM Lord-Lieutenant of Cheshire, added:
“Cheshire was delighted to host one of the services as part of the Royal Foundation initiative, Together at Christmas Community Carol Service, and support HRH The Princess of Wales in the longstanding work with the Shaping Us campaign and the importance of early childhood. Many thanks to the zoo and several others who made this very special occasion possible for our youngest children, their families and the adults in their lives. It was a wonderful afternoon, and a great opportunity to give a festive thank you to those working so hard to help the youngest members of our society to flourish.”
The service was supported by Hobbycraft, Co-op and The Earl of Chester’s Fund through the provision of items to enhance the guest experience and help to create a magical community event, including refreshments, decorations and gifts.