Royalty and stage and screen actors are lending their support to a national learning disabilities charity, which is bringing its much-loved Christmas concerts to people’s homes during the festive season for the first time.
In light of the pandemic, Hft’s will be swapping its four annual Coming of Christmas concerts, which traditionally take place in Dorchester, Worthing, Bradford and Chelmsford during the festive season, and replacing it with a virtual experience.
Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal will be officially opening the special event via a pre-recorded video, where she’ll pay tribute to the ways in which the charity has adapted during an unprecedented time. Following this special welcome, the evening will see people supported by the charity at its 26 services across the country joining forces with a line-up of household names to put on an evening filled with music, readings and festive spirit. Former television and radio presenter Annabel Giles, whose sister is supported by Hft in Sussex, will be compèring the evening and will be joined by celebrated actors including Michael Pennington, who will be filming a festive reading to be shown at the event. The world-renowned Choir of Magdalen College, Oxford will return to provide music, while a roster of over 30 people supported by Hft top off the evening’s entertainment by performing a mix of readings, sketches, speeches and songs.
In a break with tradition, the virtual celebration, will replace Hft’s annual Coming of Christmas concert, which has taken place across the country for over 25 years. The event has become a popular fixture in many people’s festive calendars, and has raised thousands of pounds over the years, with Annabel Giles attending as guest reader at every concert.
Admission to the virtual concert is free, with the charity inviting people to make a donation if they are able to. All funds raised are set to go towards Hft’s Pandemic Appeal, which aims to ensure the ongoing safety and wellbeing of people with learning disabilities and the key workers who support them. This spans from purchasing personalised technology to enable people to live with a greater level of independence, to running virtual day services to reduce loneliness and isolation.
Vanessa Edwards, Director of Fundraising at Hft, said:
“Our Christmas concerts have raised hundreds of thousands of pounds over the last 26 years, which has been spent supporting adults with learning disabilities to live the best life possible. We wanted to continue to bring people together for our annual seasonal evening of music, but as local communities aren’t able to gather together in the same way this year we have needed to think a little creatively. That’s why we decided to get people into the Christmas spirit from the comfort of their own homes by combining the entertainment from all our concerts into one magical evening of festive fun.
“At a time when changes to routine, social isolation and anxieties about how to stay safe are particularly affecting people with learning disabilities, we’re committed to raising funds to ensure we’re able to support them through this difficult time. We’re hoping to see people up and down the country embrace the season of giving to help us raise money for a great cause.”
Hft’s Winter Warmer concert takes place at 7.15pm on 16 December. To sign up, visit https://hftchristmas.eventbrite.co.uk/
Notes to editors
Hft is a national charity that creatively supports more than 2,200 adults with learning disabilities across England and Wales to live the best life possible. Services range from residential care to supporting people to live independently in their own homes – from a few hours a week to 24 hours a day. Hft also helps people with learning disabilities to take part in daily activities, make friends and develop relationships and to find work.
Established in 1962, Hft is funded in two ways: through local authorities, who fund vital support services, but also through donors, supporters and volunteers who enable us to find new ways to help more people to thrive rather than just get by.
For more information about Hft please visit www.hft.org.uk
Location: Hft Sussex