Christmas is only four weeks away and we can’t wait! To take our minds off the impending doom of exams (ARGH!), The Saint sat down with James North, an organiser of The London Alumni Carol Service which is set to take place on 19 December 2014.
James explained that the event is the largest annual gathering of St Andrews graduates, and regularly attracts over 1,500 alumni: “It started 10 years ago in a small chapel in London and was established by the London Alumni Club as a way of celebrating Christmas amongst the graduate com-munity in the capital,” he said.
Since then, the service has grown in size and been held in the Scottish Church in Knightsbridge, Southwark Cathedral, St Paul’s Cathedral in 2012 and Westminster Abbey in 2013. This year, the event has been forced to change its venue again in order to accommodate for the demand for tickets.
James added, “This year it will be held in Westminster Central Hall, which is the central hall of the Methodist Church and was the scene of the first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly in 1946. It is a stunning venue in the heart of Westminster!”
He told The Saint that the serv-ice follows a “traditional concept of Christmas lessons and carols, with the lessons read by famous honorary graduates and gradu-ates.”
This year these graduates include: author Bill Bryson, politician Betty Boothroyd, ac-tor Crispin Bonham Carter and former Lord Mayor of London Sir Roger Gifford. Quite the line up indeed!
Additionally, as this year marks the cen-tenary, the service will also feature a special commemoration of the role played by the University in the First World War. James explains that the readings will honour the 972 students enlisted, of whom 130 died on the front line.
The service will also feature the London premiere of Paul Mealor’s new commemorative anthem The Shadow of Thy Cross, sung by The Other Guys.
The special event will also pay homage to J.M. Barrie’s famous ‘Courage’ speech given to students of the University in 1922. In his renowned Rectorial address, the Peter Pan author reflected on the great loss of the First World War and the young people who had made supreme sacrifices during the 1914-18 conflict.
And if that’s not enough of a reason to go, James added that there will be an event held after the service, giving St Andrews alumni and students alike the chance to dance, drink and be merry.
“After the service finishes at 8pm, everyone will make their way across the road to the Queen Elizabeth II Centre where a large party will be held un-til Midnight,” he said. “The party will feature a live DJ and a cei-lidh by London’s l e a d i n g ceilidh band “Licence to Ceilidh”, with a free drink on arrival and then a cash bar running all evening.”
What’s more, do-gooders can feel safe in the knowledge that proceeds from the evening will be going towards providing scholarships for St Andrews students. James explained that the evening is being held to raise funds for the London Scholarship Fund, established in 2012 with the aim of provid-ing scholarships for students from the Greater London area to study at St Andrews.
“Already one scholarship has been established and the Fund is just £28,000 short of establishing another – a sum it hopes to raise through ticket sales and donations on the night,” he said.
This year, the Carol Service team told The Saint that they “wanted to make the service even more inclusive”; and as such have decided to make student tickets available at just £20 per person.
James admitted, “Our hope is that students returning home for Christmas will consider coming and joining the fun! It is a fantastic evening – and a really good way to celebrate Christmas with friends from St Andrews!”
Tickets are on sale now and can be purchased here: https://sparc.st-andrews.ac.uk/westminster14.
Additionally, for more details visit the the London Alumni Club’s Facebook page.