The RCS held its annual Commonwealth Carol Service at a packed St Martin-in-the-Fields Church in Trafalgar Square. The service has become well-established as a colourful and vibrant celebration of Christmas in a uniquely Commonwealth setting.
This year's service followed the 2013 Commonwealth Theme, 'Opportunity through Enterprise'. There were a mix of carols, performances, and readings; including excellent performances by the Purcell School's Commonwealth Ensemble, young composer Kavi Pau, and The Senanayake London Choir.
Readings were given by the Commonwealth Secretary-General HE Kamalesh Sharma, and Dominican High Commissioner to the UK HE Francine Baron.
There were also addresses from UK Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills The Rt Hon Dr Vince Cable MP and John Bird MBE, founder of the Big Issue.
Dr Cable spoke about Opportunity Through Enterprise, providing poignant personal anecdotes from his time as Special Advisor on Economic Affairs for the Commonwealth Secretary General, Sir Sonny Ramphal. Speaking about entrepreneurial flair, he commented that “the greatest expressions of enterprise are often found in the poorest communities”.
Mr Bird gave a rousing address on Social Justice Through Opportunity, describing how The Big Issue provides those in troubled times with a means of helping themselves, and stating that “we need to give hand ups, not hand outs".
There were also readings from Rukiyah Khatun, alumni of the Commonwealth Youth Exchange Council, a fellow of the Arianne de Rothschild Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship and cross cultural network, and a Future 50 winner; and from Commonwealth Essay Competition winner Amy Carmichael who read her award winning poem on empowering Bangladeshi women through farming.
The Service was followed by a Reception at South Africa House.
Praise for the 2013 service:
“… an excellent Carol Service yesterday to herald the start of the Christmas season. I sang joyously as I remembered all the Christmas Hymns known from childhood… The RCS Carol Service is a must!”
“it was a fantastic experience for my students; they all returned home with memories that will remain with them for some time… it was very special for them as again they had no experience of a choir and orchestra of that quality.”