I have really enjoyed the build up to Christmas this year. In Westminster I was part of the choir for the annual Singing for Syrians concert, which saw me singing in front of 500 people to raise awareness and money for those caught in the conflict in Syria. I also managed to attend my nephew’s school carol concert which took place in Westminster Cathedral. He attends a special school as he has Down’s syndrome so to see him and his school friends raising the roof in front of 2,000 people was truly amazing and there was not a dry eye in the church.
Back in Chichester I attended the Swanfield Christmas party at the community centre, which holds many events for local residents. A new youth room was built last year after a successful campaign by local volunteers and a £25,000 grant secured by the Council, now all under the management of brilliant volunteers Edith and Brian. On Fridays the centre also converts into a mosque for local worshippers, and it was wonderful to see everybody from all parts of the community come along to celebrate the festive season together. One lucky secret Santa winner was treated to free entrance to the new ice rink at Priory Park for a family of four. The ice rink and food stalls are a new addition to Chichester’s festive activities this year, alongside the regular Christmas market on North and East Street. I got my Christmas shopping off to a good start on Saturday, despite the awful weather. This year I’m trying to buy as much as I can in the high street to support our shops who are having a difficult time, which was not helped by the rain.
Next Saturday I’m looking forward to the Chichester Cathedral carol service which is a highlight of the Christmas calendar, and this year will be shared with my parents for the first time. As it has been a quiet year and not much is happening in Parliament I will be hosting Christmas this year. Despite the extra work it will be lovely to see my family as they head to West Sussex from Liverpool.
Christmas is all about family and I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a happy new year with yours, whilst of course remembering those less fortunate this Christmas who are on their own or homeless. Local homeless charity Stonepillow will again provide a dinner for its clients and those sleeping on the streets over the Christmas period. Its 24-hour hostel in Huston Road will be open 10am – 5pm for anyone who is homeless or rough-sleeping to come and have lunch and receive support from the Stonepillow tea