East Kent Provincial 2013 News

Provincial Carol Service

Friday 13th December 2013

 The Provincial Carol Service at St Barbara's Church

The Christmas season was well and truly launched at St Barbara’s Church, the Corps of Royal Engineers’ Garrison Church, in Brompton, where the Provincial Carol Service, organised under the aegis of the Provincial Grand Chapter of East Kent, commenced with a welcome from one of the Royal Engineer’s Padres, the Rev Mandy Reynolds.

The soloists Vanda Maria Cekalo and Maurice Worgan

The full programme of music had been put together by the Musical Director, Companion Philippe Lacamp, who also conducted the evening’s proceedings. It featured the voices of the Provincial Choir which, on this occasion, was enhanced by a number of lady and gentlemen guest choristers and soloists Vanda Maria Cekalo and Maurice Worgan. Vanda has performed many operatic roles and was the vocal award winner of the 2011 Kent Festival of Music. Maurice, whose first musical highlight was to sing at the Queen’s Coronation, has toured the UK and performed in many Music Festivals throughout the South East. Musical accompaniment was skilfully provided by the organist, Stuart Neame, who amongst his wide-ranging musical achievements, recently played Bach’s Fugue BWV 545 on BBC1’s “Songs of Praise”.

The Provincial Choir with guests under the direction of the conductor

The whole event had been well planned and organised by the Provincial Carol Service Committee under the direction of the Provincial Grand Chapter Charity Steward - Companion Derry Clements together with Companions Chris Metherell, Graeme Wyles, Mike Hayward and the Musical Director Philippe Lacamp. Members of the East Kent Provincial Grand Stewards’ Chapter also helped with the arrangements.

Stuart Neame in the organ loft

The music began with everyone singing “Once in Royal David’s City”, a rousing start to a full evening’s programme, which included choral pieces, solos from Vanda, Maurice and Stuart and a charming duet, the “Shepherd’s Cradle Song” sung by Vanda and Maurice. One of the evening’s highlights was the beautiful singing of “In the Bleak Mid-Winter”, voted the most popular Christmas Carol in a recent poll. It featured the choir and both soloists.

As the evening drew to a close, the Grand Superintendent, Most Excellent Companion Geoffrey Gordon Dearing, addressed everyone present. He congratulated the choir, which he described as ‘the best Provincial Choir in England’, the soloists, the organist and the Musical Director.

Cheque presentation to the Mayor of Medway

He expressed his thanks to Brigadier David Southall and Senior Chaplain Rev Stephen McCauley for permitting the use of ‘this lovely church’ and to the Padre, Rev Mandy Reynolds for her help. He singled out the Verger, Veronica Lewis, who had been extremely helpful with the detailed arrangements for the service. He also thanked the Mayor of Medway, Councillor Josie Iles, for attending and asked her to convey good wishes to Steve Iles, her consort, who was unwell. Last but by no means least, he thanked all those attending, the organising committee, the advertisers, sponsors and all those that had worked tirelessly to make the evening such a success before wishing them all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Cheque presentations to the Rev Mandy Reynolds

Geoffrey then went on to present some cheques: to the Mayor of Medway, a donation to “Help for Heros”, one of her selected charities; to Rev Mandy Reynolds, one for St Barbara’s church fund and another for the Chaplain General’s Fund to help with family activity breaks.

A fourth cheque was given to the RSME Commandant, Brigadier David Southall, CBE, for the Royal Engineer’s Central Charitable Trust. After paying all the costs of the evening, the proceeds will be donated to the Freemasons’ Grand Charity.

Cheque presentation to Brigadier David Southall, CBE

The Deputy Grand Superintendent, Excellent Companion Trevor Climpson, then presented Liz Dearing with a bouquet and this was followed by the Deputy Provincial Grand Master, VW Bro Roger Odd, who presented another bouquet to the Verger, Veronica Lewis.

A blessing was delivered by the Provincial Grand Chaplain, WBro Rev Neville Gallagher, following which everyone sang the last carol in the programme “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!”

Finally the choir closed the evening by singing “We Wish You a Merry Christmas” after which, full of festive cheer, the audience headed home.