Although Thanksgiving is yet to pass, revellers didn’t let this get in the way of their Christmas cheer on Tuesday night as they kicked off the festive season at the Fayre of St James. The event — organised by the Quintessentially Foundation and Crown Estate to raise funds for Rays of Sunshine — saw Brian Blessed and Sophie Winkleman give readings, while the classical singer Laura Wright performed.
As carol singers got into the Christmas spirit, it fell on Tom Odell to bring the mood down as he introduced his set. Introducing his cover of the Beatles’ Real Love — which played on last year’s John Lewis Christmas advert — the singer hinted that he regretted recording it for the now famous commercial. ‘This is a song by John Lennon which I ruined for an advert,’ he lamented, before launching into a lively rendition of the track.
Happily the rest of the evening proved to be a more uplifting affair. Brian Blessed gave a reading of the Night Before Christmas, prompting Rev Lucy Winkett to say she had — at last — heard the voice of God: ‘Finally, after five years I get to hear the voice of God speaking from the pulpit’.
Meanwhile to close the night, Blessed offered attendees an uplifting message of his own. ‘I’ve just qualified after 600 hours in Moscow as a cosmonaut. I’m now the first reserve and I will be going into space — international space station — next July, and I’m 79,’ he boomed. ‘So follow your dream, and you go after them — don’t let the bastards get you down.’
Here are a selection of photos from the event, which was sponsored by Deutsche Asset & Wealth Management: