Minstrels past and present raise £1,900 for charity

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FOR 10 years, a group of members of Angus Minstrels past and present along with a few friends have been coming together at Christmas time to raise funds for Alzheimer Scotland Angus Services.

This year was no exception and thanks to their involvement the sum of just over £1,900 was raised at Friday’s performance of ‘A Carol for Christmas’. The money will be used to benefit people with dementia and their carers throughout Angus.

Arbroath Town Mission Centre was the venue and the capacity audience settled down amidst a beautiful Christmas drawing room setting for an evening of song and verse by Eileen Craig, Pat Ellen, Maggie Findlay, Shona Kemp, Marian Pyper, Vicki Watson, Louise Murray, Douglas Cant, Jonathan Milne, Gary Mitchell, John Kerr, Jamie Watson and Jim Ramsay who were impeccably accompanied by Sheena Glover. Joan Macgregor provided humorous interludes with verse.

The singers commenced their programme with the carol ‘Deck the halls’ which set the scene for the evening. Vicki chose a lovely lullaby ‘Shine for me again’ for her first solo and in the second part sang a ‘Carol on Greensleeves’ with Marian. Eileen sang the haunting ‘How soft upon the evening air’ and along with Jim ‘Good King Wenceslas’. The ‘Wexford Carol’ was Maggie’s first choice and later she brought the audience up to date with just what she did with the gifts she received from her true love in ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’. Louise gave a charming rendition off ‘The Virgin’s Slumber Song’ and Pat delighted with her choice ‘A star was His candle’.

The gentlemen, too, had solo spots. Douglas sang ‘I wonder as I wander’ and a jaunty ‘Rise up shepherds and follow’; Michael Head’s appealing ‘The Little Road to Bethlehem’ was Jonathan’s first choice and later in the programme he sang ‘The birth night’. John Kerr gave a fine rendition of ‘Born in the night’; Gary chose the lovely carol ‘Away in a manger’ and the ever-popular ‘The Christmas song’; Jamie sang ‘O little one sweet’; and Jim chose a folk song arrangement of the carol ‘The holly and the ivy’. Each of the soloists sang exceptionally well much to the delight of the capacity audience.

The ladies got together singing ‘O Christmas Tree’ and ‘The Cradle’ while the boys sang an arrangement of the carol ‘Silent Night’ by Henry Geehland and ‘The Coventry Carol’.

Joan read several seasonal poems and there was lots of laughter at some of the verse.

Throughout the evening the company interspersed the solo items with very good harmony singing in ‘My little song’, ‘The Virgin Mary had a baby boy’, ‘The carol singers’ with the solo line taken by Pat, ‘The Angel’s Chorus’, ‘Good Christian men rejoice’ and ‘Joy to the world’.

The audience too, had their chance to sing the carols ‘O little town of Bethlehem’, ’Hark the Herald Angels sing’, ‘Once in Royal David’s City’ and just after the company sang their final item ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘O, come all ye faithful’.

Pat Brodlie, Dementia Resource Worker Alzheimer Scotland Angus Services introduced the programme and gave the vote of thanks. Special thanks were accorded to Joan Mitchell who had brought the group together and to Gary Mitchell and his team for setting up the ‘drawing room’, to Bob Clapham and Wilma Swankie and the Trustees of Arbroath Town Mission for allowing the use of their premises and for the teas, coffees and mince pies; and to all others who had been involved in staging such a wonderful night of music, song and verse which brought the Christmas season another bit closer.