Video & Gallery: Magical Star carol service helps raise money for Guide Dogs

IPSWICH: In the bleak mid-winter, hundreds gathered for a magical Evening Star 125 Christmas Carol Service.

Today organisers were hoping last night’s event had raised a bumper sum for the newspaper’s seasonal appeal – Guide Dog 2011.

Evening Star editor Nigel Pickover praised the congregation for battling through the icy conditions to reach Ipswich’s civic church, St Mary-le-Tower for the event.

It is the first time the service has been held there – after many years at nearby St Margaret’s, a location that was not available this year in the week before Christmas.

The Rev Canon Charles Jenkin welcomed an estimated 300 people to the church, which was decked in Christmas finery from the church’s recent highly-successful seasonal festival of trees

Enchanting carols including God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman, Joy to the World, O Little Town of Bethlehem, While Shepherds Watched, In The Bleak Midwinter and O Come All Ye Faithful filled everyone with a sense of the joyous festival ahead. The service also saw the boys’ choir of St Mary-le-Tower perform There’s A Star In The East, Joseph’s Carol and The Birds.

There were festive Bible readings from members of staff from Ipswich Hospital NHS Trust, an organisation dear to the newspaper’s heart.

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Mr Pickover said he was thrilled so many had turned out despite the bitter chills and said Ipswich, Felixstowe and Suffolk people were “showing true community spirit in looking after each other in difficult times.”

He added: “I was delighted we had a range of people from Ipswich Hospital taking part in the readings. A line has been drawn in the sand at Ipswich – not more cutting of services – we build from here, with the excellent team in place at Heath Road.”

He cited the newspaper’s “half-way” house campaign victory of a day unit for heart attack patients of what can be done when the community is galvanised.

n Are you holding a special festive event for a good cause? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or you can send an e-mail to eveningstarletters