Concert teams really on song

In this week's diary Sheriff of Norwich Derek James pays tribute to the singers and musicians who make Christmas special.

I have never sung as many carols in my life...and I have never listened so many talented singers and musicians helping to make Christmas so special for so many people.

While I mumble away to Hark the Herald Angels Sing and Away in a Manger I have been surrounded by people who are a joy to listen to.

And today I would like to turn the spotlight on them and thank them on behalf of the city for all their hard work at this time of the year...both singers and musicians.

We just turn up for the services, festivals and concerts, while those in the choirs and bands have been rehearsing for months, making sure everything runs like clockwork.

Last week I was at four very different carol services along with thousands of other people from Norwich and across Norfolk. They all had their own reasons for attending.

The first service was at Norwich Cathedral was the Norfolk Emergency Services Carol Service organised by the police, the fire and the ambulance services.

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It gives them all the opportunity to get together both to celebrate Christmas through music and readings and to reflect on events during the year.

Their difficult work was praised by the Dean, the Very Rev Graham Smith, who said: 'There is little that is sentimental or romantic or escapist in the work of the emergency services.

'Your work reflects the truth of the Christmas story – bringing peace, saving people from hurting themselves, bringing order out of chaos.'

And he went on: 'Our emergency services bring peace to troubled people and troubled situations. You probably do not use that word peace in your work, but that is what you are about.'

The beautiful music for the service was provided by the cathedral choir, the Taverham band and the choir of Hillcrest Primary School.

A collection was made for The Matthew Project, which has been helping those with drug and alcohol problems in Norwich for more than 25 years.

The following night my wife and I were back at the cathedral for the Marie Curie Cancer Care 'Lights to Remember' service and I was slightly concerned about my role during the evening.

It was my duty to walk to the back of the church and switch on the Tree of Lights. Just push the lever forward – they said.

I have never been much good with electrics and I was worried that I would plunge the whole cathedral into darkness along with Tombland.

I needn't have worried. The tree looked beautiful and each light represented an act of remembrance and generosity.

All the money raised will be spent on providing Marie Curie nurses within Norfolk.

'At Christmas having the choice to remain at home surrounded by family and friends is especially important,' said Deven Seetanah of Marie Curie.

The service itself was a time to remember loved ones and also pay tribute to the wonderful work carried by the Marie Curie team. It was led by the Rev Canon Peter Doll, Canon Librarian at the cathedral.

The choir of Norwich Lower School, directed by Nicky Dunnettt, proved once again what a class act they are. The singing was a true delight.