Westminster Abbey Christmas Carol Service

Once again we were delighted to be invited to the Princess of Wales’ Christmas Carol Service at Westminster Abbey earlier in December. The service is a ‘moment to thank all those who work to support babies, young children and families’ and aims to being people together at Christmas time.

The lucky recipients of tickets this year were Julie Hall, our Services Manager; Claire Hughes, one of our consultants; Claire Harvey, our Head of Education; Lynne Adamson, one of Specialist Teachers; and Gill, our very recently retired Assessments Manager.

In Julie’s words, they had ‘amazing seats’ at the front of the Abbey with a great view of all the royals in attendance. Here is what Lynne had to say about this special afternoon:

‘Wow! I feel so lucky and privileged to have attended Carols at Westminster Abbey. It was a truly magical and heart-warming experience.

From the surprise mince pie to keep us going as we queued, to the awe as we entered the vast, beautifully decorated aisle, the eager anticipation was palpable as the expectant audience waited. Finally, the huge beam of the TV camera rising and turning to face the main aisle, was the signal that royalty had arrived and clutching our lit white candles, a solo choir boy’s voice began the first notes of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. We were in for a treat!

There were celebrities galore, readings and poetry, poignant songs and great company from my fellow companions.

Afterwards, there was feverish photo taking from everyone as we walked slowly out, to secure this incredible experience as treasured memory keepsakes!’

And here are Gill’s thoughts:

‘There was such a happy vibe on Friday. While queuing outside we apparently looked like we were struggling to take a group selfie with the Abbey in the background so a kindly police officer offered to take the photo for us. Then once through security we were offered delicious mince pies.  Very welcome.

So many people (perhaps the Princess’s friends and supporters) greeted everyone passing by, imploring us to have a good time. The Abbey really was absolutely stunning. It was so full of rich colours and beautiful trees and decorations.

We were seated pretty early but the time flew by as we people watched. A few celebs walked along the aisle in front of us.  A young lad behind us caused a laugh when he excitedly shouted out “It’s Adam Lambert!”. Adam Lambert [a singer, if you don’t know]  heard him and duly beamed and waved!

Such memories to treasure for a long time.  Thank you so much for the opportunity. ‘


By |2024-04-24T09:30:15+01:00December 22nd, 2023|Homepage featured, Latest news, Team blog|0 Comments

CEO blog – An unforgettable evening with the Royal Family

13 January 2023

An unforgettable evening with the Royal Family

January’s started off a bit grey and miserable, so I thought I’d cheer you up by handing the blog over to a special guest this time. Vicky is a long-standing supporter of this charity, having been a dear friend of our late founder Helen herself, for many years. Vicky’s going to fill you in on a very exciting adventure she had before Christmas, along with four other lucky members of the Helen Arkell team. Over to you Vicky …!

The first big excitement was receiving a beautiful card invitation to the Royal Carol Concert in an envelope marked “Buckingham Palace”. I had been lucky enough to win one of the five tickets that Princess Beatrice had donated to Helen Arkell Dyslexia Charity, for supporters of the charity to attend this amazing event at Westminster Abbey. My name had been put in the hat because I’m a ‘Friend of Helen Arkell’. By the time the important day arrived, Thursday 15th December 2022, I was like a child on Christmas Eve.

As that Thursday was a day between two days of rail strikes, we decided to go up to London mid morning, in order not to be heId up by transport. I had arranged to meet another lucky winner on the train – Samantha, one of the admin team at the charity – and we decided to find the correct entrance to Westminster Abbey before we had a look round. There was already snow on the grass and everything was sparkling in the sunshine. We found somewhere nearby to eat until it was the time we were supposed to take our seats, and we spent a very pleasant time eating and people-watching in the Methodist Centre. We managed to meet up with the other lucky winners – one of the charity’s dyslexia assessors, one of their teachers, and a trustee.

We had to wait quite a while in the queue, but we were offered mince pies and all the guides were very cheerful and chatted to us. We had been told that the Prince and Princess of Wales would be holding the
concert, but were very excited to learn that, at the last moment, all the Royal Family had decided to attend. We had to wait whilst a car dropped off a member of royalty, and then, after passing through
security, we made our way into the Abbey.

It was very crowded, and I sat at the back of a large block of people but right at the end of a row. As I am very tiny, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to see much, but as soon as the King and Queen Consort arrived, everyone stood up and I crept into the gap between the blocks and saw King Charles, Queen Camilla, the Princes and Princesses and Dukes and Duchesses, walk past right in front of me.

I had no idea that the programme would include so many famous people, including Mel C, Hugh Bonneville, Alfie Boe and Craig David. Those that were too far away for us to see were filmed on large screens all around the Abbey, so we did not miss anything. The service was a beautiful mixture of readings and songs, including Away in a Manger, sung by a choir of Ukrainian children.

It was all over far too quickly and, instead of making our way out of the doors, we were rather naughty and made our way to the front of the Abbey, where we saw the Royal Thrones, The Christmas Tree decorated with Paddington Bears and the Nativity Scene, and we took the opportunity to take lots of photos.

This was one of the most exciting days of my life. I felt l like a child in a sweet shop, and so fortunate to have been present.

When all the excitement was over, we made our way back to Waterloo and were lucky enough to catch a train almost immediately and travelled home very tired and aware of the fact that we had shared an important moment in history.


By |2024-04-24T09:34:08+01:00January 13th, 2023|CEO blog, Latest news|0 Comments


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