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Carols - 21st December 2023

The Fairy Tale of New York may not have been the UK’s official Christmas No 1, but it was certainly No 1 on the night at the annual carol singing on 21st Dec.

Over 100 residents of Crazies Hill, Cockpole Green, Upper Culham, Warren Row and even Wargrave came along to sing their hearts out under our new Musical Director, Oliver Good of Warren Row.

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Oliver prepares to open the carols

Oliver had put together (press ganged) a small orchestra consisting of Freddie Good on piano, Florence Good on cello and guitar, Oliver also on the guitar, together with Julie Wheals on clarinet.

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Julie Wheals and Florence Good

Freddie had put together the orchestrations for the chosen carols and the ensemble did a brilliant job keeping the villagers in time throughout the evening. It wasn’t an easy task!

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Freddie Good

As is traditional with the RA’s Carols Evening, the programme started with Once in Royal David’s City, with the first verse being sung solo by Florence Good, before everyone else joined in.

During the course of the evning the children came forward to sing ‘Away in a Manger’, accompanied by Oliver on guitar. Despite some initial shyness the children performed magnificently.

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Away in a Manger

Next it was the turn of the men to step forward to perform for the prize of the best king, Melchior, Caspar or Balthazar. After a powerful rendition of ‘We Three Kings’, the men singing the part of Balthazar, were declared the winners.


We Three Kings

Not to be outdone, the ladies took centre stage for a more gentle version of ‘Silent Night’.

The traditional version of ’12 days of Christmas’, where ten groups of singers bob up and down to sing their particular day, was a trifle chaotic, but everyone got there in the end. Slightly breathless after all the exercise the villagers finished the evening by wishing each other a ‘Merry Christmas’, in song form of course.

According to the programme that was to be the last carol, but in reality, that was not the case. Oliver in putting together the song sheet had decided on a radical departure and inserted a very modern Christmas song, a marginally modified version of ‘The Fairy Tale of New York’. This proved to be such a hit that there were loud calls for an encore and so this was sung again at the end with much gusto and so finished the singing part of the evening.

Dave Smith, the RA Chairman, thanked all the musicians for their wonderful playing throughout the carols and especially Oliver for putting it all together. Dave then presented Oliver with a thank you gift on behalf of the RA and all the villagers.

After that the residents were invited to socialise whilst sampling complimentary mulled wine and mince pies and cookies baked by the villagers. All declared it had been one of the best carol evenings they could remember and clamoured for Oliver to come back next year, which we are very happy to report he has agreed to do.

Many thanks to the RA committee for setting up and clearing away and to all the residents who baked the mince pies and cookies

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