Tamworth Co-operative Society’s Christmas Carol and Memorial Service is making a welcome return for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic.
Hundreds of people are expected to attend the service at St Editha’s Church on Friday, December 1 at 7pm.
This year it is being organised in conjunction with St Giles Hospice, giving local people the chance to embrace the festive spirit and pay a poignant tribute to their lost loved ones.
In time-honoured tradition, the lights will be dimmed, and the church atmospherically illuminated by a sea of candles held aloft in memory of relatives and friends.
Glen Speak, general manager of Tamworth Co-op’s funeral division, said he was delighted to be able to announce the return of the event.
“We introduced the service back in 2010 and the Tamworth public really took it to their hearts. Year after year they packed out St Editha’s Church to the rafters and that takes some doing as it’s the biggest parish church in Staffordshire.
“From the feedback we have received we know that people take a lot of comfort from celebrating their loved ones in such a beautiful way at Christmas. However, while the candlelight tribute is undoubtedly a moving part of the service, the focus is also on the joy and spirit of Christmas. The atmosphere has been described as incredibly warm and uplifting. Everybody is welcome.”
Mr Speak added it was ‘heart-breaking’ to have had to cancel the service in 2020 when Covid hit.
“Our intention has always been to bring it back as soon as we possibly could, but we decided to hold off until now to be on the safe side.
“We would like to say a big thank you to St Giles Hospice which is partnering us for the first time in staging this special service. We know how much people have missed it and it’s wonderful to confirm it will be back.”
Sam Storey, Regional and Legacy Manager at St Giles Hospice, said: “This service gives families the opportunity to come together to celebrate the lives of their loved ones and reflect on their memories of them, whilst supporting the work of St Editha’s and St Giles Hospice.
“We’re delighted to be able to work with the Tamworth Co-operative Society to offer this special service to the people in our local community. Whether you’ve lost a loved one recently or some time ago, we know there’s no timescale on grief.
“If you need our support, or a listening ear, please know that we are here for you. Our advice line is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is available on 0300 330 9410.”
As in previous years, the evening will feature Scottish piper Jonathan Prior, as well as performances by Tamworth Ladies Choir and soloist Tom Clamp.
The order of service will contain a £5 Christmas gift voucher which can be redeemed at any of Tamworth Co-op’s 12 food stores. A free prize raffle to win a seasonal hamper will also be drawn on the night and a collection made, to be split between the church and the hospice.
Reverend Andrew Lythall, Vicar of Tamworth, will conduct the proceedings with St Giles Hospice trustee Simon James and Tamworth Co-op chief executive Julian Coles making the opening and closing addresses. There will also be poetry readings by Leah Sandford, head of Tamworth Co-op’s Bereavement Advice Centre, and Mr James.
Following the service complimentary hot drinks will be served in St George’s Chapel.
*Herald readers are invited to hang a memorial tag on one of the Remembrance Christmas Trees on display at Tamworth Co-op’s Bereavement Advice Centre, next to the Co-op department store in Colehill, or the main funeral home in Upper Gungate. Alternatively, call (01827) 65333 or (01827) 62094 and a member of staff will be happy to place a tag for a family.