This short article/reflection was written by Philip Wilson, Head of Operations and Regional Director (East):
The aim of the Essex Farmers’ Drive-in Carol Service was to shine a light in the darkness of this year and to bring hope and a little bit of joy to people in the farming community. A plan was drawn up not so much on the back of an envelope but on a wing and a prayer.
The date, Sunday 13 December, was set and Chelmsford City Racecourse were delighted to be able to provide the venue, the capacity of which was around 300 socially distanced cars. What followed was an outpouring of generosity and goodwill as sponsors offered money in return for promotional leaflets in goody bags, handed out by Young Farmers in face coverings upon arrival.
The Diocese of Chelmsford were pleased to offer technical and administrative support and the printing cost for orders of services and collection envelopes was kindly covered by ARK Agriculture Ltd. Rural adviser and Agricultural Chaplain to the Diocese of Chelmsford, and FCN Essex Chaplain, Rev. Canon Janet Nicholls, compiled and led the service addressed by the inspiring Rt. Rev. Roger Morris, Bishop of Colchester, who blessed a crib lovingly crafted by the Great & Little Leighs churches’ crib group.
New Hall School offered a choir of all ages – but positive Covid tests put paid to that at the eleventh hour. Instead, they provided four exceptionally talented adult musicians and singers. The six hundred strong, hardy, congregation were stunned by young up-and-coming opera star Nancy May, who enchanted everyone singing ‘Oh Holy Night’ and a number of other Christmas favourites.
Three hundred car horns sounded in delight through the December afternoon mirk and rain. The service took place on the trailer of a Scania 500 Tautliner lorry kindly donated by High Trees Packers Ltd. of High Roding. Young Farmers’ Clubs from across the county brought tractors adorned in Christmas decorations. High Sheriff of Essex, Mrs Julie Fosh, awarded Southminster YFC with the award for “Best dressed tractor” and presented all who helped with specially struck for the occasion medals.
Farming Community Network Essex were humbled by the generosity of all involved, the greatest thanks being that people had been “Jingling without the Mingling” and left happy and uplifted.
Please join us in celebrating Christmas by watching the event here: http://essexfarmers.affirminar.com/event