SSAFA Christmas Carol Service 2021 (Picture: BFBS).
SSAFA Christmas Carol Service 2021 (Picture: BFBS).

Get in the festive mood with the SSAFA Christmas Carol Service

The service heralds the start of the festive season for many in the armed forces

SSAFA Christmas Carol Service 2021 (Picture: BFBS).
SSAFA Christmas Carol Service 2021 (Picture: BFBS).

There is nothing quite like a traditional carol service to put you in a festive mood at Christmas.

That is why, this Christmas Eve at 6pm UKT on BFBS The Forces Station and BFBS Radio 2, broadcasters Tim Humphries and Jess Bracey will bring you highlights from the Christmas Carol Service in aid of SSAFA The Armed Forces Charity - the UK's oldest national tri-service military charity.

Tim Humphries Jess Bracey SSAFA Christmas Carol Service 2021 Military Personnel
Tim Humphries and Jess Bracey with Flt Lt Dan Chorley, Surg Capt Kate Prior and Maj Andy Poulton at the SSAFA Christmas Carol Service 2021 (Picture: BFBS).

Following a virtual event in 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown, this year, a congregation of more than 500 gathered in person at The Royal Military Chapel, the Guards’ Chapel for a traditional nine lessons and carols service.

The charity’s president, His Royal Highness Prince Michael of Kent, joined heads of each military service, members of the Armed Forces, guests from the Ministry of Defence plus charity staff and beneficiaries at the historic "spiritual home" of the Household Division.

The fundraiser, organised by the SSAFA Central London branch, sees music led by The Band of the Royal Air Force Regiment and The Guards Chapel Choir. The Christmas story is told through Bible readings by tri-service representatives.

After this two-year absence, Lieutenant General Sir Andrew Gregory, Chief Executive of SSAFA, spoke about how special this event is, saying:

"Part of the importance of this event is reaching out to the whole armed forces community and saying 'We’re all here for you, wherever you are across the world', and this is one way of getting that message across."

The Royal Military Chapel, the Guards’ Chapel SSAFA Christmas Carol Service (Picture: BFBS).
The Royal Military Chapel, the Guards’ Chapel (Picture: BFBS).

Over many years, stars of the West End stage, TV and film have shown their support to SSAFA by being involved in the service.

This year, Nick Hewer, star of BBC’s 'The Apprentice' and Channel 4's 'Countdown' read the lesson from the gospel of John.

Speaking to Tim Humphries, he recognised the sacrifices made by personnel serving away from loved ones at this time of year, saying:

"So many of our young men and women are serving overseas and they’re not getting home for Christmas and their families yearn to see them and they can’t.

"So this is an important, quite emotional service – this is special."

Radio broadcaster Tim Humphries TV presenter Nick Hewer The Apprentice Countdown Cameraman Mark Hearn (Picture: BFBS).
Tim Humphries and Forces News cameraman Mark Hearn pose for a photo with Nick Hewer (Picture: BFBS).

Addressing the congregation, British Army veteran and SSAFA beneficiary David Tovey, shared his powerful personal story.

After leaving the military, he suffered a stroke, was later homeless and had attempted to take his own life. After being helped by the charity, he reflects on his own experience, saying:

"To be able to stand up and tell my story to the world, in a way, it’s quite an honour.

"It’s something I never thought would ever happen.

"People need to know the work that SSAFA does."

You can listen to highlights of the SSAFA Christmas Carol Service on Christmas Eve at 6pm UKT on BFBS The Forces Station and BFBS Radio.