A Sussex Christmas
On a wet and windy December 14th evening over 160 people gathered in the beautiful St Mary's Church, Storrington, to enjoy an evening of poems, traditional local songs, and some favourite carols.
"A Sussex Christmas" was devised by the late Patrick Garland, husband of Alexandra Bastedo, who died earlier this year and this evening's event - directed by the eminent director Roger Redfarn - was held in his memory. And what a wonderful evening of entertainment we had. Our line-up of celebrity readers for the poems consisted of actors Sarah Badel, Alexandra Bastedo, John Clegg, Susan Jameson, and Christopher Timothy.
The traditional Christmas and local songs were sung by The Copper Family, a well-known local family who have been singing Sussex songs un-accompanied for generations, and the audience approached their own favourite traditional carols with gusto.
Starting with a welcome from our own Alexandra Bastedo, we began the evening with the perpetual favourite carol "Once in Royal David's City" followed by a selection of poems - some humourous, some poignant - but all extremely entertaining. The Copper Family sang two songs during the first half of the evening, demonstrating the beauty of the local Christmas songs and their talent for harmonising.
The Interval came all too quickly with an opportunity for a glass of wine or soft drink served by the two Waitrose ladies who volunteered to help us. After the interval we all settled down for more music and poems and continued to be enthralled by the way the celebrities brought the poems to life, generating both laughter and sadness and receiving much applause.
The Copper Family treated us to more songs well-received by the audience and near the end of the evening we all joined in "Little Donkey" - a song very apt for the evening. The final carol "O Come, All Ye Faithful" brought the evening to a close to much applause. As everyone gathered their coats and umbrellas ready to go out into the wind and rain, we were told many times what an enjoyable evening they had just had, how wonderful all the performers had been, and we were asked by a lot of the audience whether we would be doing something similar again soon. The answer to that would be to keep checking the ABC Animal Sanctuary website calendar for news of our up-coming events.
Our grateful thanks go to: Susan Jameson, Sarah Badel, Alexandra Bastedo, Christopher Timothy and John Clegg for their wonderful poetry reading, to the Copper Family for their beautiful singing and their songs, and to Roger Redfarn for directing the event. Our thanks also go to the Reverend Malcolm Acheson for allowing us the use of the beautiful St Mary's Church, Storrington, to the pianist, and to Waitrose Storrington for their contribution of wine and two of their employees to serve it. We are also very grateful to Fowlers Estate Agents, Storrington, for their help in selling tickets. All funds raised will benefit the ABC Animal Sanctuary and St Mary's Church, Storrington.