Around 700 hardy souls braved the winter weather to commemorate the centennial of the World War One Christmas Truce at Butlin Road on Sunday, as Rugby’s first Silent Night Carol Service proved to be a resounding success.
The event was organised as part of a national initiative to mark the centenary of the 1914 ceasefire which saw frontline troops down arms to sing carols, play football and exchange gifts in no man’s land for a brief period.
Rugby MP Mark Pawsey and Deputy Mayor Richard Dodd were amongst a packed main stand at Rugby Town FC’s stadium, and they witnessed an entertaining and at times poignant series of performances.
The carols were superbly led by soloist Mel Cotton and the Rugby Male Voice Choir, with the Jaguar Land Rover Band on hand to provide musical accompaniment.
Pupils from Harris School also took the stage with a scene from the musical The Hired Man, whilst Avon Valley School’s Sophie Crane spoke about her recent trip to the war graves in Belgium.
Roy Crowne – executive director of National Christian Charity HOPE – who addressed the congregation, reflected on an enjoyable event.
“It was a wonderful afternoon at Butlin Road, he said.
“The Silent Night Carol initiative has had a great response around the country, and today was no exception.
“It’s great to see communities come together to remember such a significant event in our history, and most importantly take inspiration from the sense of hope, peace and reconciliation it can bring to us all.”
The service was preceded by a football tournament on the club’s artificial pitch complex, and the final performance of the event saw a particularly well-received combination arrangement of Auld Lang Syne and Last Post from the band.
* Photographs by Martin Pulley