Cars arrive for a drive-in carolling event

Christmas cheer saved with drive-in carols

Sedgefield residents were very disappointed when their annual ‘Carols on the Green’ event was cancelled. New lockdown restrictions meant the popular event could not go ahead.

But thanks to a grant of £790 from County Durham Community Foundation through the EDF Walkway Wind Farm Community Benefits Fund, the event was revamped with a twist.

Judith King, from Sedgefield Area Churches Together, gained inspiration from a local choir group and decided to spread Christmas cheer safely. Judith and the team set about organising a community carol drive-in for all to enjoy.

She said: “We knew we had to do something for the local community. At the time, we had just received the news that families would be unable to meet over a five-day period. Everyone was feeling very down and the Christmas cheer was missing.

Strong communities

“We spoke with people from Fishburn Brass Band and our local Sainsburys, who enthusiastically agreed we could use their car park on a quiet Sunday evening.

“We created the event online and started to gain interest. Then we sold free tickets on Eventbrite and made song sheets for people to print at home.

“There was a maximum capacity of 100 vehicles and every space was full. We had some members attend alone and some cars full with local families. Each car was spaced out to make it safe.

“We had the backing of our local radio presenter, Gary Philipson of BBC Radio Tees, who introduced the event, gave safety information, thanked everyone involved and encouraged participation by the sounding of horns. He did a countdown at 7pm, and then we sang together for 45 minutes with our windows down. It’s an experience I will never forget.”

Members of Sedgefield Lyric Singers led the singing. Eight volunteers stood more than two meters apart and sang into a PA system that echoed out across the car park. The funding through County Durham Community Foundation paid for the PA system.

Christmas cheer saved

One attendee said: “What a lovely event it was. I went with my sister, who is quite ill, and because we could stay in the car she was able to attend. I think it has been the only ray of sunshine in a terrible lead up to Christmas. To all concerned with arranging and pulling it off, you should be proud of yourselves.”

Another lady added: “The event was wonderful and I will remember the sound of the horns forever.”

In total, about 50 volunteers helped to make this event happen and it is something the group would like to continue going forward.