The Wren Chapel at the Royal Hospital Chelsea was full of guests and famous faces on 6 December, celebrating the 20th Carols from Chelsea service in support of The Institute of Cancer Research, London.
The packed programme featured readings from actors Eddie Redmayne, Emilia Fox, Sophie Winkleman and Victoria Smurfit, alongside news presenter Mark Austin. They were joined by Mike Shaw, giving a moving tribute to his daughter Abbie who died of cancer when she was five years old. Abbie’s fund, which was set up in her name, now supports our research into neuroblastoma.
Attendees also enjoyed performances from The Chapel Choir of the Royal Hospital, featuring chorister Elliot Ogden, a trumpet solo from John MacDomnic, and organ pieces from Charles Maxtone-Smith.
Two decades of support
Over the last 20 years, Carols from Chelsea has raised nearly £2 million towards our world-leading research. This year marked one of the biggest events yet, with a sold-out crowd. Supporters brought out their competitive sides, bidding in a silent auction featuring signed merchandise by Pink Floyd, a wine tasting with Times Wine Critic Jane MacQuitty, and a week’s holiday at a private home on Australia’s southwest coast. We are so grateful to the individuals and organisations who kindly donated prizes for the evening.
After the service, the festive cheer continued as guests gathered for a Laurent-Perrier champagne reception and the opportunity to speak with our guest readers, performers and the ICR’s senior leadership.
All proceeds go towards supporting our scientists in developing new and better treatments for cancer patients.
Starting off the festive season
Eddie Redmayne, known for his roles in ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and ‘Les Misérables’, said:
“Christmas is my favourite time of year. I love singing carols, I love this building - it’s breathtaking and historic with a brilliant choir. It’s a treat to be here, getting in the spirit, and for a wonderful cause also.
“I think cancer research is sensationally important. Cancer is one of those diseases that affects us all in some way, shape or form. Anything we can do to improve our knowledge, and hopefully find cures and ways of battling it, is wonderful.”
Victoria Smurfit, who has recently been seen in BBC’s ‘Bloodlands’, said:
“I’m so pleased to be able to support Carols from Chelsea for the Institute of Cancer Research, it’s such a fantastic event to kick off the festive season. Cancer is unfortunately extremely prevalent in so many families. So when I hear the word ‘cancer’, I don’t hear a disease. I hear a brother, a sister, an auntie, an uncle, a daughter, a child. The incredible scientists that are able to find a way forward, to give those people hope and help, they can’t do that without funding. We don’t have the scientific ability, so our job for the community is to find the funds to support them to find a cure.”
Mike Shaw, guest reader and father of Abbie Shaw, added:
“How wonderful after the last few years of lockdown to actually be here in person, with all these supporters, and to be able to share with them the amazing work the ICR does.”
Thank you to the committee who organised this year’s Carols service, especially Diana MacKenzie-Charrington. Diana is stepping down as Chair of the Carols Committee after seven years in the role. We are grateful to her for leading so many successful services, and for making Carols from Chelsea a standout event in the calendar.
“Cancer is not discriminating; it now affects one in two of us, but thanks to research and discoveries, it is no longer a life sentence. During the ten years I have been involved in fundraising for the Institute of Cancer Research, I have been amazed by the dedication of the hard-working scientists and their resulting findings. This work could not happen without fundraising events like Carols from Chelsea and the support of our donors. We are so lucky to have had such a stellar line-up of readers for our 20th anniversary event and it has been a wonderful way to get into the Christmas spirit.”
And of course – thank you to everyone who purchased tickets, donated, and helped to make our 20th Carols from Chelsea such a special evening. We hope to be celebrating the event, and its impact on cancer research, for many more years to come.