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Singing for Syria

Highclere Castle event raises £6,660 for Oxfam crisis appeal

Jane Meredith

Reporter:

Jane Meredith

Singing for Syria

SONGS For Peace at Highclere Castle earlier this month proved a huge success, raising £6,660 for Oxfam’s Syria crisis appeal.

A Children’s Service took place on the East Lawns, taken by Lord Carey of Clifton and attended by the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, who opened the castle, their family home, especially for the charity fundraiser, with a welcome by Lady Carnarvon.

Mark Goldring, Oxfam’s chief executive officer, spoke about the Syria Crisis Appeal and how each donation goes directly to those that need the help, especially during the winter months.

“The day was a huge success with more than 500 people coming to support Oxfam,” said a castle spokesperson.

“The rain and cold stayed away, and we can’t thank the children and the teachers from the local schools enough for making Songs For Peace such a great day.

“We’ve had lovely comments from the public too, and Lady Carnarvon is now thinking of making this an annual event.”

After the service, a performance was given by Out of the Blue, an acapella group from the University of Oxford.

The day included more than 150 children from Kennet School, Thatcham, singing, organised by Helen Robertson, the school’s head of music.

Choirs sang in the castle’s saloon, with a string octet and cocktail bar piano player in the north library, while the drawing room hosted pianist Trevor Defferd, a volunteer at Oxfam, Northbrook Street, Newbury, for nearly five years.

Mr Defferd was accompanied by various soloists including vocalist, Duncan Shelton, head boy at Park House School, Newbury, who has performed at Wembley Arena.

Duncan also set up an initiative involving Newbury schools Park House, St Bartholomew’s, The Downs and Trinity, to collect items for the charity Calaid – the leading charity for helping those in need of aid in Calais. Two collection days yielded more than 100 bin liners of clothes, blankets and hygiene equipment.

Soloists also included Victoria  Benjamin (saxophone), who teaches woodwind for Berkshire Maestros, and violinists, Helen Page, former head girl at Kennet School, Thatcham, and Emma Leeson, a pupil at St Bartholomew’s School, Newbury.

Whitelands Primary School took Year Three along to sing which was “adorable”, added the spokesperson.

Watership Brass band also entertained, with Christmas Carols inside and in the courtyard area.

The total included £6,200 raised by the castle, plus £460 collected by Oxfam, which set up stalls inside the castle, selling Christmas gifts and decorations. The total raised will be further boosted by 25 per cent Gift Aid.

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