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Carols on the Doorstep started as a small local event in Shropshire, and now radio stations across the UK are signing up. The event looks set to bring some Christmas joy to communities across the UK.
Radio stations will broadcast the backing music for people to sing along to from their doorsteps for a full hour from 6-7pm on Wednesday, December 16. The event suggests a minimum donation of £2 to the mental health charity Mind to sing – however, organisers say they also hope individual streets will also collect for local charities such as foodbanks.
BBC Radio Shropshire was first to sign up, after they were approached by event organisers My Shrewsbury magazine and Shropshire Festivals.
They will be joined by BBC Radio Cambridgeshire, BBC Stoke, BBC Radio Lincolnshire, BBC Essex, BBC Northampton, BBC Suffolk, BBC Surrey, Andover Radio, BBC Sussex, in broadcasting the carols on the night.
Rose Aston, Editor of BBC Radio Shropshire, said: "Our BBC carols events have been a firm fixture in the calendar every year. It’s such a shame that we can’t all get together this Christmas. Carols on the Doorstep will use the magic of radio to bring communities closer by having a good old collective sing song. We can’t change the global situation with Covid, but we can all make a difference locally."
Words and sheet music will be available on the website www.doorstepcarols.co.uk along with leaflets and posters, to encourage people to help spread the word. The backing music, which should help keep people in time and in tune, was recorded by BBC Radio Shropshire during Carols in the Square in Shrewsbury in 2019, played by Shrewsbury Brass Band.
You can also sign up via the website to be a ‘street organiser’ to encourage others to get involved too by sharing the event on social media, or putting leaflets in your window.
“We are delighted that so many radio stations will join in with Carols on the Doorstep - the more the merrier!” says Katy Rink, editor of My Shrewsbury, who came up with the idea. “We are determined to make this a special night for everyone involved – and also for elderly and vulnerable people who may be self-isolating, but who will be able to hear the music in their street and watch from their windows.
“We’re asking everyone to thrown themselves into this – make mulled wine, bake some treats, get the kids playing instruments, banging saucepans – sing your heart out on the doorstep! We could certainly all do with cheering up this year.”
Co-organiser Beth Heath, Director of Fun at Shropshire Festivals, added: “Obviously we won’t be Christmas partying in the usual sense this year – but you can have a huge amount of fun within your bubbles at home. It’s such a simple idea, but will be very special if we all decide to get behind it and hopefully we’ll raise lots of money for good causes, whilst we’re at it!”
There are plans to involve residents at care homes across Shropshire too and food delivery company Zoom Foods will be delivering free dinners during the event across Shropshire to those who have gone the extra mile during lockdown to help their communities.
Lucy Holl, CEO of Morris Care, which runs Care Homes across Shropshire and Cheshire, said: "This is a wonderful idea to create some festive joy when we all so desperately need it - many of our residents have been unable to see their families over the past six months and so we're hoping some of them might be able to sing in bubbles outside our windows and share in this joyful experience."
Churches in Shrewsbury have agreed to ring their bells at 6pm to signal the start of the carols. Shrewsbury Town Crier Martin Wood will also do a ‘cry’ in his street to let his neighbours know when to sing and Shrewsbury Abbey has pledged to throw open its huge doors to let the carols sing out into the night air. Father Christmas will ride around the town in a sleigh pulled by a vintage tractor during the event.
Martin Wood (‘the world’s tallest town crier’ at 7ft 2ins”) said his whole street was behind the idea: “When you put the news on, there’s nothing but doom and gloom – people are getting fed up. We need to lighten the mood and make our own fun this Christmas and this is a lovely idea! Things like this – and Clap for Carers – are really bringing communities together.”
“We’ve been contacted by people all over the country wanting to get involved,” Beth added. “It’s great they want to put their own spin on it – we even had one street wanting to organise drive-in carols! We hope that Carols on your Doorstep will keep music live this Christmas and bring joy to families and neighbours all across the UK.”
Stuart Danks, Director, DM Recruitment, sponsoring the event, said: “"We are delighted to be able to support Carols on the Doorstep. This year, more than ever, there is a need to support one another and find opportunities to be cheerful and enjoy the small things and we look forward to singing along on December 16."
Carols on the Doorstep is sponsored by DM Recruitment, Zoom Foods and Morris Care and supported by BBC Radio Shropshire.
Visit the Doorstep Carols website www.doorstepcarols.co.uk to find out how to get involved where you live.
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