(waiting for total money raised)

I AM writing to express my thanks to all of those who attended the Civic Carol Service at St Michael’s Church on Monday evening.

They will be pleased to know that their generous donations to the collection raised the sum of £??? in aid of Hospice Care North Northumberland. My thanks must also go to all of those who made this carol service possible. I include the Baliffgate Singers for their excellent singing, the Rev Alan Craigs and the readers from St Michaels, colleagues from the Alnwick International Music Festival who assisted with refreshments, members of Alnwick Town Council, the Town Clerk and St Michael’s PC for the use of the church.

It was good to see members of the public in attendance as well as invited guests. There was a common theme to my guest list in that I wanted to acknowledge the quality of community service which I believe to be extremely strong in Alnwick.

Thus, representatives from a range of charities and community organisations joined civic representatives to celebrate Christmas and, in doing so, help the Hospice to get nearer to its fund-raising target.

The one thing that has been confirmed time and time again since I was elected as Mayor in May is just how generous Alnwick citizens are in supporting our community. This is repeatedly demonstrated every week by reports and letters of thanks in this newspaper and in this respect it is good to see the number of reports that involve our schools and young people as they too play their part in our community.

This year we have had cause to celebrate the visit of Her Majesty The Queen, the winning of an award for Bondgate Within and Alnwick itself as a market town. We have much to celebrate next year. The celebration of the Queen’s Jubilee is quickly followed by the overnight stay of the Olympic Torch which will, in itself, see a week long festival involving a wide range of community and sporting organisations.

While the above awards, well deserved as they are, relate to the historic context of the town perhaps, as we move through Christmastide and into the New Year, the real cause for deeper celebration should be the generosity and commitment to the community by the people of Alnwick.

In wishing all of you a happy Christmas and best wishes for the New Year let us hope that this powerful spirit within Alnwick will prevail.

Charles Dickens said: “I will honour Christmas in my heart and try to keep it all the year.”

I am very optimistic that he speaks for us all.

Alan Symmonds,

Mayor, Alnwick Town Council.