Carolling at the Royal Stoke University Hospital

On 16th December, 2019, a group of us from Christ Church went to sing carols at two different hospitals: County Hospital Stafford and the Royal Stoke University Hospital. I was amongst the group that visited the Royal Stoke University Hospital (as pictured), and what a joyful experience it was! We had Dave Rowlands leading us on his concertina, which was very amusing amongst other things, and were led around by one of the hospital chaplains, Leo Varquez. We brought the instrument box from church and handed out maracas, jingle bells and shakers to anyone who was willing in the group – we made quite a racket!

The first wards we visited were in the critical care section of the hospital, so our percussion was silenced momentarily whilst we sang some gentle carols such as ‘Away in a manger’. Although not many of the patients were visibly conscious or could see us performing, this was still one of my favourite parts of the experience.

The patients that could see and hear us were smiling and wishing us a Merry Christmas as we left, which was a particularly heart-warming gesture.

The second section we visited was Cardiology, and these wards were also quite quiet. However, we sang much more lively carols here, so we could finally use our percussion instruments! I made full use of my jingle bells, especially in the instrumental for ‘White Christmas’, and we even had a man who was dancing along in his chair! Seeing them smiling and enjoying the carolling made it all worthwhile.

The final wards we visited were more general, and the patients weren’t quite as unwell. We took full advantage of this and handed out maracas to everyone so they could shake along too. We sang a couple of traditional carols, but then we took requests, which very quickly had us singing song such as ‘Jingle Bell Rock’ and ‘Rudolph the red nose reindeer’. Naturally, these songs were a hit with the patients, and the joy in the ward was incredible. Their smiles and joy I think made all of us smile and feel even more joyful. What a wonderful thing it is that an event like Christmas can bring joy to even the most hopeless situations.