The Leigh-on-Sea Folk Carol Service has been a cornerstone event in the annual festive calendar for more than 40 years, taking place at St Clement’s Church, in the heart of the town. Normally attended by local residents in their hundreds, the event celebrates a left-field take on the Christmas message, with performances from a multitude of art forms. This years event will be no different – only in that, the entire event will take place online.
Organised by the team that produced Leigh Folk Festival’s Front Room Folk Festival, this year’s Folk Carol Service will be streamed on Leigh Folk Festival and St Clement’s Church Facebook Pages and YouTube Channels on Sunday 13 December at 6:30pm.
In 1978, Ken MacKinnon a former Mayor, Methodist preacher and local folk enthusiast came up with the idea of a traditional folk carol service to raise money for Famine Relief. Having contacted a local folk band along with a few enthusiastic singers from the local folk club the first-ever Traditional Folk Carol Service was born, held at New Road Methodist Church, in Leigh.
Over the years this unique service became so popular that it outgrew the humbly sized church, now known as the Fisherman’s Chapel, and in 2005 moved up the hill to Leigh Wesley Methodist Church. It moved again in 2008 to its current home, St Clement the Parish Church of Leigh, with its 100ft Kentish Ragstone tower and tumbling panoramic views of the Thames and its Estuary to the south east.
St Clement’s Church for many years has proudly been one of many venues for the annual Leigh Folk Festival; hosting among other things, Poetry by Candlelight, An Evening of Storytelling, the Festival’s Open Mic Competition, and its flagship evening concerts.
Since being at St Clement’s Church the Folk Carol Service has greatly expanded including, among other things, a procession and sometimes a Mystery Play.
Despite Covid-19 and national restrictions on large gatherings, organisers and local partners Bromfield Events and Elliott Waters were determined to celebrate the festive season and the local community.
This special event will include festive performances from The Famous Potatoes, alongside contributions from Kiti Theobald, John Smith, The Mudlarks, Gill West, Shane Ibbs, Roy Brown, The Hoy Shanty Crew, Silver Darlings, Mac Elsey, Goodnight Crow, Ken MacKinnon and Suzanne Higgins. The event will be MC’d by Leigh storyteller Peter Monk, with Fr Clive addressing the Christmas message.
The Folk Carol Service will be streamed on Leigh Folk Festival and St Clement’s Church Facebook Pages and YouTube Channels on Sunday 13 December at 6:30pm, you can set a reminder to for the service now on Facebook and YouTube. The event will be raising money for Mencap, the learning disability charity, in lieu of a traditional offering during the service. Donations can be made via JustGiving here.