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On Tuesday 15 December, almost 300 people came to St Margaret’s Church, Westminster to sing carols to raise money for the Hands Up Foundation and Christian Aid. The Singing for Syrians flagship concert was organised by Victoria Prentis MP who has spent the past few months encouraging people to organise their own event, or to pass around a bucket at a pre-planned carol concert.

The flagship concert featured readings from ITV Political Correspondent Romilly Weeks, Dickensian actor Sir Timothy Ackroyd and Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP. There were also solo performances from MPs including Andrea Jenkyns, Bernard Jenkin, Anne-Marie Trevelyan and Will Quince. Oxford East and Abingdon MP, Nicola Blackwood impressed the audience with her rendition of popular Christmas carol, “Silent Night”. The St Margaret’s choir also performed a variety of pieces including John Rutter’s Sans Day Carol. Robert Buckland QC MP, Ben Gummer MP, Rt. Hon. Cheryl Gillan MP and Rt. Hon. Caroline Spelman MP also sang in the choir.

Earlier on in the day, Mr Speaker kindly hosted a reception in his State Rooms at Westminster Palace to thank all those involved with getting Singing for Syrians off the ground.

Victoria said: “Both the lunch and concert on Tuesday were fantastic. I am very lucky to have had so much support from colleagues, and am so grateful to all those who performed so brilliantly. Singing for Syrians crystallised as an idea after I attended the Westminster Hall vigil for the refugees in September and I started thinking about all those who are unable to even contemplate leaving the country. Often they are too old, too young or too unwell to leave. Our two charities are doing some really important work in the country and the surrounding region. Hands Up Foundation pay the salaries of the medical team in Aleppo. The money goes directly to the three doctors, two nurses and two porters who are providing vital assistance to those in need in Syria’s largest city. I felt quite overwhelmed, and exhausted, at the end of the day. Sadly, I think the need will be even greater next year. I hope people will continue to organise their own Singing for Syrians concerts in the coming months.

Everything raised through Singing for Syrians will be match funded by the Department for International Development. So far Victoria’s initiative has raised almost £60,000.

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