Broadcaster and Barnardo's President Natasha Kaplinsky hosted the Barnardo's Kidsmas Live event from St. John Smith’s Square in London on Tuesday evening, which featured special guests singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum, poet Hussain Manawer, and a plethora of enthusiastic children's choirs.
The live-streamed show, supported by Vodafone, celebrated the magic and fun of Christmas while acknowledging that many less fortunate children will need even more help than usual over this festive period.
Actress and Barnardo’s ambassdor Fay Ripley encouraged viewers to “sing loud and proud” and dip into their pockets to support the valuable work Barnardo’s does supporting around 300,000 vulnerable children in the UK.
Winning the cute prize by a mile, the nursery class at Kings House School, Richmond, sporting Christmas jumpers and hats, lustily sang Jingle Bells in what Ms Kaplinsky justifiably called an “adorable” performance.
Elm Hall School from Leeds sang the much-covered – and much-loved – Leonard Cohen song Hallelujah, and St Margaret’s School for Girls in Aberdeen performed Away in a Manger accompanied by clarinets, violins, cellos and flutes cleverly synchronised and edited with the singers online.
Interspersed with the celebratory performances, videos reminded viewers about the main purpose of the event – to raise funds for Barnardo’s work supporting disadvantaged children, many of whom have had an even tougher time during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Barnardo’s chief executive Javed Khan said: “This has been one of the most challenging years we’ve ever known. Families have had to choose between heating their homes or feeding their children.”
There were moving testimonies from young people, some of whom may have suffered physical and mental abuse, hunger, poverty, or mental health issues, who had been given confidence and motivation thanks to the charity’s help.
Connecting the disconnected
As many of these kids don’t have the digital connectivity many of us take for granted, Ms Kaplinksy announced the relaunch of Vodafone’s Great British Tech Appeal, which refurbishes unwanted smartphones and tablets and redistributes them to families in need.
Barnardo’s carers said children who’d received such devices felt more connected, confident and included, and one child poignantly commented that without the Appeal “the disadvantaged would have become even more disadvantaged”.
Helen Lamprell, General Counsel and External Affairs Director, Vodafone UK, encouraged viewers to donate their unused gadgets, saying: “Your old phone could really save a life”.
For more about how to take part in the Appeal, click here.
‘Magic and joyfulness’
But the serious purpose didn’t dampen the celebratory atmosphere of the Kidsmas Live event.
The Brent Music Service choir from North West London performed a toe-tapping version of Jamaican Noel, whose catchy ‘Tiny little baby born in Bethlehem’ refrain will have had many viewers singing along. And the Barnardo’s Young Carers Choir from Merthyr Tydfil sang Seasons of Love, movingly reminding us that many children caring for siblings and parents at home feel isolated and unnoticed.
One young carer said: “This group has given me friends just like me.”
Hussain Manawer, joined on stage by a socially-distanced singing guitarist, performed his poem Christmas Tree, written specially for the event, which included the lines: “I need your hands to guide mine as we walk through Christmas Eve. I need your hands to find mine as we fix our Christmas Tree.”
And playing grand piano, singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum sang and performed How Do You Fly, a gentle and wistful ballad from his new album, The Pianoman at Christmas.
“It’s about being a child on the border of adulthood and taking some of the magic and joyfulness into our adult lives,” he told Ms Kaplinksy.
“There’s still magic in the adult world.”
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