Christmas carolling and switch-on events are going to be quite different this year.
And with fog rolling through the Cotswold Hills and temperatures dropping, Claudia Unger, parishioner, and PCC (parochial church council) member took it upon herself to create some magical festive time for her village – and beyond.
“Throughout this year we’ve been thinking creatively of ways to interact safely as we’re a tight knit community,” said Claudia, from Cherington, near Tetbury.
“And while we might not be able to share in mince pies on the green and sing carols around the Christmas tree; we’ll definitely have our ‘9 Lessons and Carols Service’ that’s been super popular in the past.”
We’ve had services on zoom, with recordings shared on YouTube and church websites. So, Claudia thought, why not create something new.
“The idea of having the 9 Lessons and Carols Service online isn’t that new, of course, Claudia said.
“But the way I see it happen in my mind, with villagers taking part in video readings and singing and come together as community is quite different.
“We’re even hoping to get some celebrities taking part – by sending us a little video message with their wish for 2021!”
The idea took root. After discussion with other members of the PCC and the priest, Gerald South, it met with approval and a sense of excitement about something positive happening.
“This year has been awash with bad news, it’s nice to be doing something that’s safe for everyone to participate in,” Claudia added.
“It’s about having peace of mind that we can come together, that we’re all in this together, and that we can still share the message of the season.”
Peace is a central theme of Christmas, but Claudia has a slightly different spin on it: believing that peace between nations and even neighbours can only happen when we’re at peace with ourselves.
Supporting mental health is a key ingredient of this initiative – both for the village and further afield.
The service is raising donations for the charity Mind.org, part of the Heads Together campaign spearheaded by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.
Cherington Show is what this Cotswold village is well-known for.
About 2,000 visitors come every year to browse stalls, watch displays, and see the likes of Tim McInnerny hand out prizes to successful contestants.
Claudia added: “Unfortunately, it couldn’t go ahead this year, giving even more momentum to this initiative.
“Now we have something to do and look forward to – and that’s important for a village that loves to be social and come together.
“Of course, Cherington Show is something we couldn’t do this year, so it feels extra special to be able to bring some laughter, peace and magic to the world during this Christmas time.”