A lockdown-inspired reworking of the 12 Days of Christmas involving a 200-plus strong virtual choir featuring celebrities plus students and staff from Penrith’s Ullswater Community College’s music department is dedicated to the memory of a Penrith woman who died from coronavirus.
Born and bred in Penrith, Josephine Donnell was a popular member of Penrith’s Castletown community who dedicated her life to the service of others and was a tireless charity supporter. She died in hospital, aged 86, on Good Friday, after losing her fight with COVID-19.
After giving up work, following her mother’s death, Jacquie Jones now volunteers her time around the COVID-19 sector and has thrown herself into various projects as a coping mechanism.
She said the 12 Days of Christmas project for Pin Your Thanks – an initiative born out of the first lockdown aimed at saying a heartfelt thanks to unsung heroes such as delivery drivers, nursery workers, teachers, care home workers, nurses, neighbours or postmen – had been a “real emotional roller-coaster”.
“With mam living in Penrith and my strong Penrith routes, I asked Ullswater Community College music department to help me out.
“Mam would visit Ullswater School as part of day trips from Croft Avenue Care Home and spoke so unbelievably highly of the school, it made perfect sense for me to ask them to take part. Steve Bryant (head of music) was amazing and had some teachers and students take part,” said Jacquie.
Mr Bryant features alongside teachers Simon Gordon and Aelswith Parker, dressed in festive jumpers, and the students who took part were Amelia Bowden, Ella Phillips, Lizzy Hudspith-Spence, Ellie Harrison, Liza Bardy, Liam Ludgate, Georgina Gale, Izzy Boothman, Rachel Huschka, and Rae Reay.
He said it was really nice to be asked to take part and the students were very excited to be a part of it.
Jacquie’s brother, Stephen, who is born and bred in Penrith as well, also took part with a group from Her Majesties Prison Service.
The video, which features comic Joe Lycett, cyclist Dame Sarah Storey, former goalkeeper David James MBE and actor Sam Tutty was entirely written, recorded and produced by volunteers, which fits the vision and ethos of #PinYourThanks.
The NHS Supporters Choir and Sweet Charity Choir provided over 100 singers performing a three-part harmony arrangement written and edited by choir master and founder Jenny Deacon. Jenny also wrote the arrangement for brass band Tuba Libres for the video.
Clive Little, who co-founded Pin Your Thanks, said: “2020 has been a hugely challenging year for so many people but it’s also been the year when we’ve seen communities really come together.
“We wanted to recognise this but in a unique, fun and festive way, with the hope of making people smile and laugh in the process. We hope this beautiful video, the result of hundreds of hours of volunteer time, will inspire people to think of that special person they should be thanking this year.”
Pin badges designed by some of the leading lights of UK art, entertainment, and sport – including Keira Knightley, Ringo Starr, Joe Lycett, David James, Emeli Sandé, Dame Sarah Storey, Anoushka Shankar and Ian Berry – can be bought for £5 on www.pinyourthanks.org with all profits going to Volunteering Matters and NHS Charities Together.
Since its launch earlier this year, #PinYourThanks has captured hearts and minds across the UK, with people wanting to say a heartfelt thanks by sending a #PinYourThanks badge to friends.