Spirit of Christmas shines bright for candlelight carols at Oxford's Christ Church Cathedral

The Oxford Times: Lily IIott, seven, lights the first candle Buy this photo » Lily IIott, seven, lights the first candle

SOME of Britain’s best-loved actors have taken part in a special candle-lit Christmas concert to raise money for charity.

The annual Spirit of Christmas concert took place at Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford on Tuesday to raise money for the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign.

Gavin and Stacey star Alison Steadman was joined by fellow actors Jemma Redgrave, Michael Elwyn, Shaun Dooley, Robert Glenister and Honeysuckle Weeks to deliver festive readings.

Zoe Williams, senior special events co-ordinator at the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign, said: “The carol concert was a resounding success and we have been blown away by Oxford’s generosity and support for people with devastating muscle-wasting conditions.

“A record number of people attended this year’s festive event, with a turn-out of 550 guests, raising an incredible £16,000 for the charity.”

Muscular dystrophy is a condition which gradually causes the muscles to weaken and this leads to an increasing level of disability.

It is a chronic progressive condition, which means that it gets worse over time.

The Muscular Dystrophy Campaign funds groundbreaking research into treatments for muscular dystrophy and related neuro muscular conditions, and supports the 70,000 families in the UK who are affected.

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Seven-year-old Lily Ilott, a pupil at Middle Barton School who suffers from spinal muscular atrophy, lit the first candle at the concert.

Some of the music at the concert was provided by the choir of the Dragon School in Bardwell Road, North Oxford.

The Oxford Times:

  • The Dragon School choir at the concert

Vicky Savage, the school’s director of music, who conducted the choir, said: “The Dragon School Choir led the congregational carols with spirited voices and their smiling faces were testament to how much they enjoyed performing.

“They sang several choir-only items including the beautiful setting of Love Divine by Howard Goodall, which sounded resplendent accompanied by the organ.

“They delivered a moving rendition of the lullaby Scots Nativity and a rousing, jazzy performance of Rise up Shepherd and Follow.

“The harmonies they achieved were beautiful and their bell-like voices rang out though the cathedral.

“I was very proud of their singing in such a magnificent setting and they were outstanding representatives of the school.”

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