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SVP’s festive carol service

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screen-shot-2017-01-05-at-16-37-21A HUGE crowd gathered together at a local Christmas Carol Service to celebrate the festive season through singing, mince pies and delicious mulled wine.

The lively annual event was organised and hosted by Aberystwyth’s Saint Vincent De Paul’s society (SVP) in Saint Padarn’s Primary School last Friday (Dec 9) in aid of the work of their society in Sudan and South Sudan.

The St Vincent de Paul Society is an international Christian voluntary organisation that is dedicated to tackling poverty and the disadvantaged by providing practical assistance to those in need.

The Society is a lay organisation, which was formed in Paris in 1833 by Blessed Frédéric Ozanam and his companions and has been active in England and Wales since 1844.

The organisation was inspired by the thinking and works of St Vincent de Paul when placed under his Patronage and through justice and charity; it focuses on those who are suffering poverty in any shape or form.

Despite the dreary winter weather, a good number attended, making the most of the festivities and good company.

Starting at 7pm, the seats were filled with eager people ready to sing their hearts out to a wide variety of hymns and carols.

The school hall was draped in Christmas decorations, from tinsel on the walls to the nativity figurines on the stage within close proximity of the advent wreath. A pre-prepared slideshow drew the attention of the audience to the front as it gave us more information about the work of the SVP in Sudan and South Sudan and, most importantly, where our donations would be going.

To begin, President of the SVP in Aberystwyth, Kevin McMulkin, and Secretary Patrick Donavan welcomed those who attended, talking us through the schedule for the evening before a short introduction about the society and its work.

Everyone then prepared their voices as they sang the first hymn, ‘O Come O Come Emmanuel’, which was then followed with a reading conducted by Leontia Slay. Some more of our favourite carols followed, accompanied by two short readings.

The first was read by Patrick Donovan, foretelling the coming of the Messiah and the second read by Madeleine Stocks depicting the appearance of the angels to the shepherds with their good news.

The first half of the service concluded by everyone joining in to sing ‘While Shepherds Watched’ and ‘Away in a Manger’ – festive classics that not only remind us of countless school plays but conjure up images of the true meaning of Christmas.

During the interval, people had the opportunity to feast on a delicious spread by Madeleine Stocks, which included mince pies, sausage rolls, shortbread, mulled wine and mulled juice.

In the second half of the service, the people reconvened to their seats after some time socialising to sing ‘The First Noel’.

With their voices at least temporarily eased by the mulled wine, everyone sat to listen to Patrick Donavan and Anna Kidner recite ‘The Three Kings’ poem by Henry Wadsworth.

Patrick Donavan then went on to introduce the next carol, ‘Faban Bach’ or ‘The Little Baby’ in English. With two fellow parishioners leading the carol from the front of the stage, their harmonious voices reflected the joyful atmosphere in the hall.

The enthusiasm of the crowd continued to increase as they sang ‘Hark the Herald Angels Sing’ and then ‘Angel We Have Heard On High’ before Kevin McMulkin made his way to the front of the hall to reflect on a quote about social justice from the words of Saint Vincent de Paul.

The evening concluded with a passionate rendition of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ firstly in Latin, then Welsh and finally English.

Of course, no event is complete without a raffle draw and so members of the SVP drew tickets and presented prizes divided by moments of laughter and cheers.

From the testimony of those that attended and the good natured atmosphere engulfing the hall, it seemed that the SVP Carol Service helped to bring the Catholic community even closer together at the start of the Christmas period. This certainly demonstrates how much a society like the SVP can make a difference.

After the carol service, The Herald interviewed Kevin McMulkin and asked him to explain more about what the SVP do: “The SVP have operated in Aberystwyth for over 50 years and during its time, as with the rest of the SVP globally, its main purpose has been to seek out and find those in need. A lot of people ask ‘what does ‘those in need’ mean?’ I think the best way to answer that is to consider the meaning behind our motto, ‘turning concern into action’.

“The SVP is an organisation that was set up to assist wherever and by whatever means it could. This could be in the form of practical help, for example giving food to the homeless, moving furniture for a family or by giving financial help towards someone who is struggling or, indeed, by visiting people on a one-to-one basis, which is the activity that is at the heart of the SVP, particularly in Aberystwyth.

“We are, of course, a Catholic charity, but our help is not restricted to those of the Catholic faith – we try to help anyone we know that’s in need any way we can.

“With an ecumenical approach in mind, we also work with the Jubilee Storehouse Food Bank, based in St Anne’s Penparcau, to provide food donation points within the parish. We then collect the food from our parishioners and deliver it to the food bank.

“In recent years, we have expanded our activities and have begun to organise fundraising events, such as the Carol Service, to raise money for the work of the society both here and abroad and also, perhaps just as importantly, to bring people together in a spirit of friendship.”

We then asked Kevin about the organisation and the planning that went into putting on the Carol Service this year, in addition to the Sudan appeal. He responded by explaining: “As you might expect, a lot of work goes into preparing for the Carol Service. We have to find an organist, book the venue and advertise the event at least a month in advance.

“Setting a date can be problematic enough as there are so many events going on at this time of year. As a result, it is really important to stand out so that as many people as possible will turn up on the night and a good amount of money can be raised for this worthy cause.

“Obviously we advertise within the parish, in the parish newsletter and by handing out posters, but the information can get lost in the pre- Christmas rush.

“As this is the third annual SVP Carol Service, as you would expect by now, we have ironed out most of the organisational problems as many things can be repeated. However, the trouble then is keeping it fresh, fun and attractive to the public so that we can raise money for our cause.”

On the reasons why the SVP are raising the money for Sudan, Kevin stated: “Our aim is to raise money for the work of the SVP in Sudan and South Sudan. Sudan has had a long history of conflict since its creation (and later partition) and the SVP estimate internal conflicts have been responsible for the deaths of around two million people and the displacement of over twice that.

“As you can expect, a lot of people are in need and so the SVP there are stretched thin. The SVP in Sudan do what we do here; they try to help those in need, but their work is much more difficult and on a much larger scale, so that is where we come in.

“As part of a program known as SVP Twinnage, our SVP conference in Aberystwyth is twinned with an SVP conference in Sudan/South Sudan and, as a result, each year we raise money via our Carol Service to assist them in continuing their good work. From the past two Carol Services, we have been able to raise over £1,000 for our twinned SVP conference.”

Kevin went on to talk about how he feels the event has been beneficial in bringing the community together: “I think a Carol Service is always something that brings the community together. By its nature, everyone has a role to play in the event. Not just the organisers, but the ordinary people there because without them, there would be no singing and no atmosphere.

“I think if people feel part of something, they will enjoy it more and are increasingly likely to get to know others there. My hope is that on some level it brought our parish community closer together.”

Expressing his hopes for the Carol Service next year, Kevin said: “I think next year we would like to have more people attend, not just Catholic parishioners but also more people from the town because it is an enjoyable event and they should be able to experience it with us.

“I think next year we should consider having it earlier, perhaps at the end of November, to miss the ‘Christmas event rush’, so to speak.”

Concluding the interview, Kevin paid tribute to a member of the society who was sorely missed during the event: “This year’s Carol Service was more solemn than the last as it was the first one without one of our longest serving member, Winnie Livermore.

“She was a member of the SVP in Aberystwyth for over 45 years and embodied what the SVP stood for as she was so generous with her time to care for those most in need.”

Kevin finally added: “She was the fun and good spirit that kept us all together, making this event and others like it even more enjoyable.”

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Education

Wales’ first law department celebrates 120 years at Old Bailey

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Left to right: Lauren Marks, President of Aberystwyth University Old Students’ Association; Ben Lake MP for Ceredigion; The Rt Hon. Elfyn Llwyd, Pro-Chancellor of Aberystwyth University; Dr Emyr Roberts, Chair of Council of Aberystwyth University; The Rt Hon. Lord Lloyd Jones; Meri Huws, Aberystwyth University Council member; The Rt Hon. Lord Thomas of Cwmgïedd, Chancellor of Aberystwyth University; Professor Emyr Lewis, Head of the Department of Law and Criminology, Aberystwyth University; Professor Tim Woods, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning Teaching and Student Experience, Aberystwyth University; and Professor Anwen Jones Pro Vice-Chancellor for Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Aberystwyth University

Wales’ oldest university law department has marked its 120th anniversary with a celebratory event at London’s top criminal court.

Law has been taught at Aberystwyth University since 1901, and in the 120 years that have followed more than 9,000 students from almost one hundred countries have graduated and launched their careers from the department.

The Central Criminal Court of England and Wales provided an illustrious setting for the first of two prestigious events held to mark the 120th anniversary of the longest-established law department in the country.

Alumni of the department include several Ministers of State, politicians and leaders, many who have gone on to develop distinguished legal careers, and those who have achieved success in other professions.

Held at the ‘Old Bailey’ in London, the celebratory event was attended by alumni, staff students and other special guests, including Ceredigion MP Ben Lake. The Guest Speaker was The Rt Hon Lord David Lloyd-Jones FLSW, Honorary Fellow of Aberystwyth University.

The special anniversary will be celebrated at a second event to be held at Amgueddfa Cymru – National Museum Wales in Cardiff on the evening of Friday 10 June. Alumni wishing to attend can find more information on the University website: www.aber.ac.uk/en/development/newsandevents/law-anniversary-dinners

Chancellor of Aberystwyth University, The Rt Hon. Lord Thomas of Cwmgïedd, said: “The history of the teaching of law at Aberystwyth is an inspiring story of dogged determination by a small number of indomitable individuals who laid the foundation for the highly-respected department you see today. In 1899 when it became clear that there was widespread support for the ambition to establish a law department in Wales to provide a broad education in legal principles, funding was raised through the generosity of members of the Bar circuits of north and south Wales, and amongst London Welshmen, with many firms of solicitors and individuals making contributions and pledging recurrent annual support.”

Professor Emyr Lewis, Head of Aberystwyth University’s Department of Law and Criminology said: “From its embryonic foundations at the beginning of the twentieth century, the teaching of law at Aberystwyth has flourished.  Today, as well as excellent teaching which has always been a hallmark of the Aberystwyth approach, the department offers numerous opportunities for students to develop practical skills and hands-on experience.  

Students have the chance to undertake casework in our Family Law Clinic, acquire and practise advocacy skills through our Mooting Society, volunteer with ground-breaking research projects such as Dewis/Choice and the Veterans Legal Link Project, and benefit from our new Law in Practice modules which are designed to begin filling the gap between the traditional core knowledge gained through a law degree and practice.”

Louise Jagger, Aberystwyth University’s Director of Development and Alumni Relations, said: “The long tradition of philanthropic giving at Aberystwyth University continues to this day and was also celebrated and promoted at the dinner.  Over recent years we have embarked on our largest ever philanthropic campaign to transform the iconic Old College into a major cultural and creative centre for Wales to mark the University’s 150th anniversary.

“Part of our plans for the Old College include a Law Room and Moot Court to honour and celebrate the rich contribution that the Law department has made to the University through the provision of a space for public engagement and for enhancing the public understanding of the law. The facility will provide a dedicated venue and resource centre for Moots, the Law Society, debates, seminars, exhibitions, public lectures and alumni gatherings.  Students past, present and future will benefit from this excellent facility. We are grateful to the alumni and friends who have already donated towards this goal and will be inviting further contributions right up until the reopening of Old College in 2024.”

Professor Tim Woods, Aberystwyth University’s Pro Vice-Chancellor for Learning, Teaching and Student Experience, said: “It is a pleasure to join alumni and friends from across the country to celebrate the Department of Law and Criminology’s contribution to Aberystwyth University and its impact on the world over the past 120 years.

“The University itself is celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year, and we look forward to reuniting with alumni and supporters at celebratory events in Cardiff, Aberystwyth and London over the coming year to mark this important milestone.”

Aberystwyth University was awarded University of the Year for teaching quality and student experience (Good University Guide, The Times and Sunday Times 2021) and also University of the Year for teaching quality two years consecutively, and Welsh University of the Year (Good University Guide, The Times and Sunday Times 2020).

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Business

New owners at Cenarth Falls Holiday Park in Newcastle Emlyn

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SAVILLS, on behalf of a private client, has completed the sale of Cenarth Falls Holiday Park in Cenarth, Newcastle Emlyn, Wales, to Boutique Resorts Ltd for an undisclosed sum.

The holiday park is set on an attractively landscaped site extending approximately 11.52 acres (4.66 ha) which includes 1.92 acres of woodland. The holiday park has planning permission for 89 static caravan pitches and 30 mixed touring caravan pitches. At the entrance of the park there is a reception, sales office and games room. The property also provides a high quality fitness, hospitality and entertaining space including indoor swimming pool, gym, bar and function room licensed for a maximum of 290 guests, and owner’s accommodation comprising a three bedroom bungalow and adjoining two bedroom cottage.

Cenarth Falls Holiday Park is situated within the historic and picturesque village of Cenarth, Ceredigion, bordering Carmarthenshire and Pembrokeshire. The village is located in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which attracts numerous visitors to the area. The River Teifi is renowned for excellent salmon and sea trout (sewin) fishing and the town of Cardigan is 10 minutes away with an array of shops and amenities. There are numerous sandy beaches nearby and many other activities on offer in the locality including walking, golf and water sports such as kayaking.

Richard Prestwich, Director in the Leisure and Trade Related team at Savills, says: “It has been a privilege to sell such a good quality holiday park, nurtured to its 5 star status over a 34 year period by the former family owner. The new owners are no strangers to high quality holiday businesses being an award winning holiday brand and they will look to improve the quality of the business further to complement their other holiday parks, with the nearest being Fishguard Bay Holiday Park.”

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News

Japan looking at the revival of Welsh for help with the endangered Okinawan language

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ONE of the biggest selling newspapers in Japan has urged one of the country’s languages to take inspiration from Welsh in its efforts to revive its fortunes.

The Okinawan language, spoken on one of the islands of the nation’s southern tip, has been the subject of a warning by UNESCO that it is in danger of disappearing.

In its front-page editorial column, the Asahi Shimbun, one of the four largest newspapers in Japan which a circulation of some 5m copies, said that those seeking to revitalise the language could take inspiration from the Welsh language.

It notes that children who spoke Okinawan in classrooms in the 19th century were punished by being forced to wear a ‘hogen fuda’ (dialect tag) – similar to the Welsh Not in some schools in Wales.

The kingdom within which the language was spoken was also forcefully annexed from without, and from then on “offered no benefits with regard to receiving a higher education or seeking employment”.

The column says that the story of Okinawan was a “reminder of how the Welsh language was rehabilitated”.

“In the 16th century, Wales was incorporated into the Kingdom of England. Its language, overpowered by English, was banned,” it said in its editorial.

“It was not until the 20th century that the Welsh language started being used again in education. TV channels that broadcast in Welsh were launched, and it acquired the official language status 11 years ago.

“It was an achievement made possible by Welsh people placing pride in, and passion for, their homeland.

“Let us hope that such a rich language will continue flourishing forever.”

The Okinawan has an estimated 2,000 speakers remaining today. Like Welsh, it has also gained an unexpected foothold in South America, where it is spoken by communities of Okinawan immigrants in Brazil, where there was no historical prohibition on its use.

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