A RECORD breaking amount of money was raised for a homelessness prevention charity at their annual carol service, last week (December 5).

A total of 700 people attended Launchpad's festive Carols by Candlelight service at Reading Minster where £10,800 was raised.

Reading Chronicle:

Now in its twelfth year, Carols by Candlelight – which was sponsored by MFG and The Reading Chronicle - has become a Christmas highlight for hundreds of local people with many saying it marks the start of the festive season.

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This years’ service was led by The Reverend Judith Sumner and the congregation enjoyed traditional Christmas carols, a Christmas message from The Reverend and bible readings given by trustee Manjula Phadnis; volunteer Emma Vallely; corporate supporter Bill Gornall-King; and Launchpad patron Lord Carnarvon of Highclere Castle.

The congregation were also treated to performances by local mezzo-soprano Harriet Kirk, Reading Bach Choir, Reading Blue Coat School Junior Choir, and Launchpad’s patron Danyl Johnson.

Reading Chronicle:

The standout performance from the night was O Come, All Ye Faithful, arranged by Reading Blue Coat School Junior Choir’s Director of Music, Richard Meehan, which included solo performances from three students and Danyl Johnson.

Chair of Launchpad trustees, Suzanne Stallard, closed the evening with a look back at Launchpad’s work over 2019 and touched on the charity’s plans to celebrate their 40th birthday in 2020 - before urging guests to give what they can at the end of the service so the charity can continue to support those in need in Reading.

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Donations on the night, ticket sales, sponsorship and Gift Aid raised a total of £10,800 - which is £700 more than funds raised at Carols by Candlelight in 2018.

Ian Caren, CEO of Launchpad, said: “Carols by Candlelight is always such a special event for Launchpad and our supporters, and this year was no different.

"Once again, local people of all ages came together to enjoy a traditional Christmas service in the magical setting of the candlelit Reading Minster, all in aid of preventing homelessness and helping those in need in Reading.

Reading Chronicle:

“The fact that our community has raised such a fantastic amount of money to support our work in December and all year round is simply amazing.

"I’d like to thank every single person involved – from Reading Minster, the beautiful singers and those who gave a reading, to our volunteers helping on the night and everyone who bought a ticket.”