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.
Louise Kelly and I arrived at the Pilgrim Chapel at Stafford Hospital early evening. When we arrived, we had plenty of time to meet other members of the public, and other church goers, who had come along to sing carols, and to help spread the Christmas Message to the patients and staff of the hospital.
Approximately 35 carollers arrived, with their Christmas headwear and we were divided into two groups. We were allocated to sing on Floor 1 of the Hospital. We were welcomed by the hospital staff and patients alike, with smiles and kind words on every ward.
Some patients wanted to sing from the carol sheets which was nice, and one lady said she knew every verse…she said she had been an R.E. teacher for many years.
Most patients joined in with the singing, including their visitors. Some patients, who were very poorly, still managed to find a smile, waved, or moved their hands in time with the singing.
Amazing how rewarding and enjoyable the carolling event was, I would encourage you to go along and have a sing song next year. The Christmas message was very well received, and LOVE SHONE DOWN OVER STAFFORD HOSPITAL.
Thank-you to Dave Rowlands for introducing us to this lovely annual event. Lynne Bakker-Collier