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Carols with Age UK Exeter and The Exeter Police and Community Choir

carols collage

Published on 17 December 2019 11:40 AM

On Friday 13th December 2019 Age UK Exeter held our first ever Carol Concert at the St. Thomas Methodist Church on Cowick Street, which raised an incredible £1191.94!

The evening was a huge success and was attended by over 150 people – adults, children and even a dog. The incredibly talented, Exeter Police and Community choir graced us with their beautiful music and the congregation joined in for a festive singalong.

The service was led by the very warm and welcoming, Reverend Julian Albrow. We were honoured to be joined by our patron, Judi Spiers who read the lovely poem, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ so beautifully. Ray Bibby of our Men in Sheds project, followed with his touching and entertaining words about Christmas as a child in St. Thomas during the war. He recounted how families spent Christmas night sleeping under hedges in the fields opposite, to avoid Hitler’s bombs! Perhaps more poignantly, he talked of how he knows all about loneliness since he lost his wife. He stressed the importance of checking on people who are alone and urged us all to keep a friendly watch on someone you know who may be alone. He particularly stressed the need for us all to be there for each other. He finished on a high note with a sneaky mention that he’s on the look-out for a lady aged 75-85 for theatre trips and more… Form an orderly queue please ladies!

Martyn Rogers, CEO of Age UK Exeter, spoke of the pain of loneliness that hangs of over hundreds of older people in Exeter.

“We know that Christmas can often increase people’s feelings of loneliness and isolation. Christmas is a time when family and friends come together, but if you haven’t got that, it can leave you feeling invisible and terribly alone.” Martyn Rogers, CEO, Age UK Exeter

He talked of a heart-breaking interview about loneliness which Channel 4 made in 2015, featuring Margaret, 91 and Roy 86. It was called “What does it feel like to be old and alone?” (click on the title if you'd like to watch it). Margaret had lost her husband two years earlier, after 67 years of marriage, and choked back the tears while she talked of how much she misses her husband and having the everyday company. Roy, also a widow, was married to his wife for 50 years and still waits for her to walk through the door. The highlight of his week is a Saturday night phone call from a befriending service.

Martyn went on to say: “What do those words say to us, what are the things we can do to make people feel visible again? We can notice who’s on their own in our road or street, we can say hello, have a chat, pop round to check all’s okay and maybe stay for a cup of tea.

Age UK Exeter works to combat loneliness and connect people together in lots of different ways. But we need your support to sustain this vital work in the city, helping people like Margaret and Roy get the most from life. Our volunteers are involved in visiting and phoning isolated older people who live alone and bringing people together to form friendships that make life worth living.

And, of course, it’s not just at this time of year that we need to make a difference. We know Loneliness is not just for Christmas.”

Huge thanks to everyone from the church who were so welcoming, to all the volunteers who helped out for the evening and to Natalie Court who kindly volunteered her time to take the photos.