Hereford Cathedral holds two carol services, this year on 22nd and 23rd of December. On Sunday, the Cathedral was packed and I expect it was on the Saturday too. Why? It is an occasion not to be missed. There is nothing quite like being present in the building as the music unfolds. No radio or television can properly reproduce it. The atmosphere is one of profound beauty and contemplation, enlivened by superb singing by the choir and rousing song from the congregation from time to time.
Christmas has now started for real. Before, it was Advent for the Church and Commerce otherwise.
The concert, kindly sponsored by Clive and Sylvia Richards, brought together a galaxy of talent.
Thee Hereford Police Choir and their soloist David Coulson, accompanied by James Macdowall-Scott and directed by Alison Houlbrooke.
The Herefordshire Youth Concert Band conducted by Clive Woollard
The Marches Military Wives Choir accompanied by Jack Pickford and directed by Jo Lowry
The Weobley High School Choir
The Stretton Sugwas Academy primary school Choir
Emily Prosser, Soloist
We heard an varied and imaginative programme culminating in all the choirs singing “The Poppy Red”. The congregation had a good sing too.
The Guest speaker was Michael Smith, a best selling author and award winning journalist. he had some harsh things to say about the way our veterans are treated. The good things that charities do is the response to the failure of the state to look after its veterans adequately.
Alan Harrhy compered the evening with considerable aplomb and humour.
The Royal National College (RNC) for the Blind held their Achievement ceremony this afternoon at the Point 4 in Hereford.
Earlier this year, the RNC celebrated its 40th Anniversary of its move to Hereford. It is hard to imagine the city without such a great organisation in its midst. We are lucky to host the RNC.
This afternoon, presentations were made by the Lord Lieutenant of Herefordshire, The Dowager Countess of Darnley to students who had made outstanding progress in their studies in various categories. The students were then addressed by The Lord Lieutenant and Professor Tamar Thompson, the Chair of Trustees of the RNC.
Again, the RNC demonstrates that, with the right help, people can achieve great things.
Herefordshire Voluntary Organisations Support Service (Hvoss) won a contract for £1.8m from the Big Lottery (as part of a nationwide scheme of £108m) to run the local Talent Match partnership covering Herefordshire and Telford.
Talent Match is “a scheme designed by young people for young people, with the aim of helping those aged 18-24 who are struggling the most to find career opportunities.” The goal is to reduce youth unemployment. Here is a link to the relevant page on the Hvoss web-site.
The Herefordshire team had their Christmas lunch at the MBA Bowling Alley near Hereford Station. We joined them to hand out certificates to those who had done particularly well in overcoming some sort of barrier to achieve a goal.
All it takes is a little help for people to achieve something and make a contribution. A little goes a long way.
The Over ’60’s Club held their Christmas dinner at the Kindle Centre today. Cllr. Paul Rone was the chief chef and produced a delicious lunch for 100 or so eager feasters. A number of us volunteered to help serve and wash up in return for our rations. We heard some carols sung by local children and it was what Christmas is about – celebrating the birth of Jesus who taught us to look after our neighbours.
This was a carol service with a difference. It called itself “A nativity play for grown-ups” and it was. It was led by the Ledbury Community choir led by Philip Holland. A new script had been written telling the story of the nativity and it was acted out under the direction of Sue Millington-Jones. The script was hard hitting, not shying away from the practical difficulties there must have been at the time. Christmas has, since Victorian times, been somewhat sanitised and this production moved away from that tradition back to the Mummers of yore (though sadly no scripts survive).
The town of Ledbury came together to produce this event. St. Michael’s was full and, yes, we sang some hearty carols too.
Traditional refreshments were very welcome afterwards.
The South Wye Police Boxing Academy, led by Vince McNally and Tony Chadwick, laid on this evening in aid of charity. Although the Academy is based at the Hinton Community Centre in Hereford, the dinner was held at Hereford Sixth Form College. The supported charity was the Hereford Sixth Form College’s Hardship Fund, to support students who cannot get funding from elsewhere either for their course or for materials or educational trips.
The gym was packed with supporters of the boxers from home and away for 11 bouts each with a generous sponsor. BMW Cotswold Hereford were the main sponsor of the event.
The atmosphere was very friendly and I now know more about boxing but I am glad that I am too old to take it up.
His Honour, Judge Daniel Pearce-Higgins QC, the Honourable Recorder of Herefordshire, invited us to sit with him to hear a case. We were also there for some hearings on legal matters.
Although it is unlikely that Hereford will have a visiting judge during this year of Shrieval office, it is part of the role of the Sheriff to understand all types of justice dispensed in the County. It is alarming that some much is now being done outside the County. As it was, the case did not involve people from within Herefordshire but had been allocated to the Hereford Court for administrative reasons. Whether this is desirable is moot.
Hereford Cathedral School held its annual carol service in Hereford Cathedral today. As one might expect, this was musical perfection. With the combination of the two institutions, now separate legally but rooted in the same inspiration, how could it be otherwise?
The congregation were invited to join in a rendering of the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s Messiah. The music was printed in the programme. Handel would have recognised it and, I like to think, would have been thrilled that so many people were prepared to give it a go so long after its first performance in Dublin on 13th April 1742. While writing, I was inspired to find out more. Here is a link.
The Bishop of Hereford gave the Address which emphasised that God is within all of us if we care to look.
HCF have an amazing number of choirs – Cantabile, the Cathedral Choristers, Colla Voce, the Chamber Choir, the Junior Choir and the Chapel Choir. All filled the Cathedral space with beauty.
The Princess Royal is the Patron of the Townswomen’s Guilds. The first Guild was formed in Hayward’s Heath in 1929. There are now about 550 such Guilds with 20,000 members. Their home page summarises their goals to be:
TG provides the opportunity for women everywhere to find support, encouragement, friendship and fun!
It was born out of the Women’s Suffrage movement. Suffrage for women on an equal footing to men finally came in the UK by Act of Parliament in 1928. The Guilds then continued to campaign by peaceful means for other equal rights for women and to support one another in the ancient tradition of guilds.
Every year, the Guilds hold three carol services, one in the North, one in the Southeast and one in the West. Hereford Cathedral agreed to host the one in the West this year and The Princess Royal, their Patron, joined them and read a lesson. The Academia Musica Choir led the congregation and performed a number of musical pieces suitable to the season mixing traditional with lesser known but lovely works. The Dean of Hereford gave the address.
It was an honour and a pleasure for Herefordshire to welcome the Princess Royal and a Cathedral full of folk from all over the region. Here are some pictures.