Hospital halls ring with Christmas cheer

22:15, Dec 26 2013
Carols in Timaru Hospital
FAITHFUL TUNES: Staff, patients, their friends and family, and members of the public united to sing carols in Timaru Hospital on Thursday night. Hospital chaplain Alan Cummins organised the annual event, inviting keen choristers. Five-year-old Ben Jordan, of Timaru, was among the many people who took part.

Carols filled the halls of Timaru Hospital this week, proving its 128-year-old festive tradition is still strong.

The hospital's long-standing carol singing event, which dates back to 1885, returned on Thursday night with the help of at least 100 singers. That figure was double last year's turnout, South Canterbury District Health Board chaplain Reverend Alan Cummins said.

"It's a beautiful sound and sight having over a hundred people singing in the hallways and wards," he said.

The singers included staff, patients, their friends and family, and members of the public. They sang a selection of Christmas songs - about 20 of all the "good traditional" carols - over an hour and a half.

"We went through the whole main building of Timaru Hospital visiting all the wards through the corridors, reception and the chapel, and ... through Kensington."

The response was great, Rev Cummins said.


It was "very positive".

"We were thrilled with the turnout and received great feedback as we went around, including Christmas greetings, many thanks, smiles and enthusiasm."

The tradition dates back to when the hospital was opened.

He said an archive website about Timaru Hospital says, "In the 60s at Christmas time, on a designated evening, the majority of the nurses, dressed in uniform and cape, carrying a candlestick holder and lighted candle, walked the corridors and stairs singing the traditional Christmas carols, led by the hospital chaplain and sisters."

The event is organised by the hospital chaplain and secondary services manager, along with many others who "chip in" to make it happen, Mr Cummins said.

"But without the singers of course it wouldn't take off."


The Rotary Club of Timaru South is putting the finishing touches to the programme of its 47th annual Carols by Candlelight service.

Secretary Des Kearns said the event - tomorrow night in the Theatre Royal - was always a delight for the community.

"It's one of the loveliest community feelings, which is really nice at this time of year. It's a time of year when people are in need of support from others. We feel that it is a very important event for the community," Mr Kearns said.

The Theatre Royal was usually packed out, and he recommended arriving early for the 7pm start to secure a seat.

Entry is a gold coin donation, with proceeds this year going to St John.

Many of the Carols by Candlelight crew have been committed to the service for many years, including Tony Bunting who will be returning as compere this year.

Dwayne Bloomfield will return as music director for the Alpine Energy Timaru Brass Band, who will be performing with the The Rhythmix Singers, providing the accompaniment for the sing-along.

Sheryl Higgs will be warming up the crowd before Waimate Jump Jam team takes the stage. Richard Lyon will deliver the mayoral message in the absence of Damon Odey, who is unable to make it. Cameron Scott and Kaylee Bell will also be performing.

The Timaru Herald