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Carols and Camels


What do you get when you take three camels, three sheep and a donkey, then throw in a ton of hay? Probably a weird little petting zoo. 

But add to this a vicar with a roaming microphone, a large cast that includes professional boxers playing shepherds and an opera singer belting out traditional carols, all part of a procession that makes its way across half of the city centre to a dramatic climax in a churchyard, and you have yourself Hull’s first ever Live Nativity! Oh, and there’s even a reporter from the Bethlehem News in there somewhere too.

Organised by Holy Trinity Church in partnership with Hull City Council, this incredible event will begin in Queen Victoria Square (or Nazareth, as it will be referred to on the day) at 12noon on Saturday 22ndDecember, with Joseph and the pregnant Mary sitting beneath the shimmering lights of our city centre Christmas tree. Meanwhile, up on City Hall’s balcony, Holy Trinity Vicar Neal Barnes will begin narrating the tale of the Nativity. 

“It’s going to be absolutely incredible,” said Reverend Matt Woodcock, Pioneer Minister at the church and organiser of the event. “Leroy Vickers of Ti Amero is playing the Archangel Gabriel, treating us all to festive favourites along the way. We aim to bring together the entire community and hope that plenty of people will join us in a sing-along.”

The role of the shepherds will be played by coaches from St Paul’s Boxing Academy – the home of Olympic gold medallist Luke Campbell.

“It’s the story of the Nativity,” explained Matt, “but we’re allowed to have a little artistic license. The church has worked with countless wonderful characters over the years so we want to get as many involved as possible. We also have Lloyd Dobbs of The Paddingtons, writer Rich Sutherland and musician Danny Shenton playing the Three Wise Men.”

Embarking on their journey to find shelter so that Mary can give birth, the cast will travel past Princes Quay Shopping Centre, down Whitefriargate and then turn right at Trinity House Lane. Due to the busy time of year, Colin Harman, the landlord of the Bonny Boat, will tell them to keep moving because, you guessed it, there’s “no room at the inn”. Arriving at The Kingston on the corner, proprietor Lee Kirman will give the same response, but kindly point them to a nearby alternative.

“That’s right,” said Vicar Neal Barnes, “a real-life stable complete with manger and hay will have been constructed in Holy Trinity’s churchyard, our very own Bethlehem. Surrounding it will be our church choir as well as angelic singers from Adelaide Primary School. It really will bring everyone together to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.”

“We even have an extremely young actor called Sidney playing the Baby Jesus,” smiled Matt. “The little star is being christened in Holy Trinity in the next few weeks, so he’s already a huge part of the church.” 

The Live Nativity will be directed by Daniel Morgan, a former Royal Shakespeare Company actor who has worked with some of the country’s leading thespians and recently performed in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice. Daniel has successfully retained the traditional aspects of the story whilst making it visually engaging, spatially dynamic and lightly humorous, celebrating the season and the city of Hull and its people in equal measure. Arriving at Bethlehem, church bells will ring out, carols will be sung, and everyone will have the opportunity to have their photos taken with the cast. A Christingle service will take place inside the church at 4pm, inviting anyone to light a candle and take part in a warm, welcoming carol session in beautiful historic surroundings. The Trinity Open Market will also be held inside the church from 10am-3pm, offering a wide selection of fantastic local crafts, vintage gifts and sweet treats.

“Part of my role as Holy Trinity’s Pioneer Minister is to think outside the box," explained Matt, "or in my case think outside the church. We want to give the entire population something to enjoy and be proud of, and to show that our doors are open to anyone at all who wants to find a place of peace, comfort, and on what’s becoming quite a regular basis, spectacular activity. We’d like to thank everyone who’s helped make it happen and urge the whole city to come join us for a totally awesome Christmas!”

The Live Nativity will commence at 12noon on Saturday 22nd December in Queen Victoria Square. Travelling to Trinity Square on foot, the event is expected to last approximately one hour. With interspersed narration and carols, everyone is welcome to join the procession. Please note that photography and video filming will take place and that the media will be in attendance. The animals are being supplied by The Animal Company, a professional business that specialises in the training and handling of live animals, always abiding by strict welfare requirements.

To find out more about the work of Holy Trinity Church, please visit its FacebookTwitter and YouTube channels. You can also follow Reverend Matt Woodcock’s personal Twitter feed, @revmattwoody.


Article by Rich Sutherland

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