Over 500 people gathered at the prestigious setting of St John’s Smiths Square on the evening of December 9th to enjoy a wonderful evening of carol singing and choral music to help mark CRY’s “coming of age”.
Full sponsorship of the performance was organised by leading retail group, McColl’s – whose Chairman and CEO, James Lancaster, became one of CRY’s Trustees following the sudden death of his 21 year old son Robert in 2001. The generous support from many of McColl’s partners and suppliers allowed all proceeds from the ticket sales to benefit CRY directly – a truly fitting tribute to the charity’s work in its 18th year and its ongoing mission to reduce the incidence of young sudden cardiac death.
Guests – including CRY Patrons Pixie Lott (singer); Andy Scott (football manager); Roger Taylor (former tennis pro) and Bill Neeley (ITN News correspondent) – were greeted at the entrance to the magnificent church by members of CRY staff, all traditionally dressed in Dickensian costume.
Alongside professional musicians from the Choir of Royal Holloway, University of London and the Orchestra Nova, over 40 pupils from Sandcross Primary School in Reigate were also invited to ‘take to the stage’ and sing some of Britain’s best loved carols. The award winning choir (with members aged 7-11) received rousing applause from the audience, impressing everyone with their obvious talent – as well as their stamina, having travelled up from Surrey for earlier rehearsals; followed by the ‘pressure’ of performing with professional musicians of such high calibre (led by acclaimed conductor, George Vass).
The venue (as well as the outer cover of the official programme) was decorated with a selection of fantastically coloured, festive posters – submitted by pupils from Sandcross Primary, as well as other nearby Surrey schools.
Unusually for such an event at St Johns Smith Square, the second half of the concert began with an official ‘cheque presentation’ from James Lancaster and his wife, Margaret, who were proud to announce a grand fundraising total of over £170,000 from a recent UK-wide Halloween initiative organised by the retailer and supported by many hundreds of staff and customers. CRY was delighted that Pixie Lott agreed to accept the cheque on behalf of the charity.
CRY’s Founder and CEO, Alison Cox MBE, commented; “This unusual concert, combining both classical music and a children’s choir, was a wonderful celebration of CRY’s ‘coming of age’ and I am delighted that we were able to share the outstanding talents of the children of Sandcross Primary School with a wider audience. I have also long wanted to be able to have an opportunity for us to conclude the year with our own carol service and am most grateful to James Lancaster for getting the funding that has given us this terrific opportunity. It was a very special evening for us all.”
James Lancaster added; “Christmas is a season filled with family celebrations but it can be a very painful time for those affected by the loss of a family member of friend. Whilst it is difficult, it is important for us all to take a moment to remember those who have suffered the loss of a young person who has been much loved. For many, CRY has provided great comfort to people worried, uncertain or who simply need someone to talk to. I would like to thank Alison for helping to co-ordinate this event on behalf of CRY; all those who took part; and all of you who have kindly made donations to support CRY.”