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Doorstep Carols returning to spread festive cheer again in 2021

People across the region will once again be taking to the streets to spread Christmas cheer as Doorstep Carols returns - and it's set to be bigger than ever.

Katy Rink and Beth Heath, founders of Doorstep Carols
Katy Rink and Beth Heath, founders of Doorstep Carols

Following a successful inaugural event last year, the festive event will be held nationwide on December 15 at 6pm inviting people to take part in singing Christmas carols from their doorstep while tuning in to their local BBC radio station.

Started during the Covid-19 pandemic by My Shrewsbury editor Katy Rink, alongside Beth Heath of Shropshire Festivals and BBC Radio Shropshire, Doorstep Carols brought people onto their front steps to sing together.

Broadcast on more than 30 local radio stations, an estimated 125,000 people took part, raising over £10,000 for MIND UK and local charities.

“Last year we saw some wonderful scenes up and down the country, with people joining in on their doorsteps playing musical instruments, drinking mulled wine, decorating their doorsteps and having a wonderful time with their neighbours,” Katy said.

“We’re absolutely delighted that BBC local radio stations are on board again this year so that people will be able to tune in to local radio wherever they are in the country.

“It’s about celebrating the joy of singing together – and sharing the experience. It’s as simple as that.”

Co-organiser Beth added: “This Christmas, we hope to see more of a street party festival atmosphere, with neighbours able to celebrate and sing together.

“If Covid restrictions allow it, people can really go to town this year decorating their streets with fairy lights, lighting fire pits in the garden or singing in community halls and village greens.”

This year, Shropshire Music Service is distributing sheet music into schools during the autumn term music curriculum so students can play along.

Ex Cathedra, founded by artistic director Jeffrey Skidmore, is working with Birmingham Women’s and Children’s Hospitals to have the Ex Cathedra Singing Medicine team leading the carols via a live link-up to children, families and staff.

The choir is also encouraging schools to participate in Doorstep Carols through its Singing Playgrounds project and Academy of Vocal Music. Attendees will be singing together outside St Paul’s Church in the Jewellery Quarter, and its Ladywood community singing group will be singing in Ladywood.

Outside Shropshire, children from Great Ormond Street Hospital will sing from their wards with The Spread a Smile children’s choir of ill children and their siblings leading the patients’ families in song on the night.

Popchoir intends to mass a group of up to 300 people at Trafalgar Square, while Winchester Cathedral choirs will lead a special event at the Winchester Christmas market, beginning with singing from the cathedral rooftop, followed by a procession before the massed Doorstep Carols singing begins.

Street Theatre’s network of West End performers will lead singing in neighbourhoods in locations across the country.

The Military Wives Choirs are linking with military engagement to enable overseas soldiers to sing with their loved ones at home for the first time in history.

125 CareUK care homes will also take part with residents knitting hats and scarves to wear as they sing.

Adding his support, musical lyricist Sir Tim Rice said: "I hope that singing en masse will remind us that music, especially vocals, can bring everyone together whether in unison or harmony. We must not let recent troubles make us fearful of using our voices.”

With the support of Rebecca Smith at Link For Good, Doorstep Carols is raising funds for multiple charities, including Youth Music, Dementia UK, Demelza Children’s Hospice, MindUK, Spread a Smile, Ex Cathedra and others.

Organisers of the event also encourage participants to raise money for a charity of their choice.

Rebecca said: “Collective singing plays a significant role in positive group identity, it creates a sense of social inclusion in a world fractured by the pandemic.

“By encouraging people, particularly children, to sing together again we are providing a reminder of the social and psychological power of collective song.”

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