Panto-style christmas carol event puts donkey centre stage
The Bishop of Plymouth made an unexpected appearance at a seaside carol service, in true panto style.
The Carols in the Sands event at Blackpool Sands, south Devon, on Saturday 19 December was organised by Dartmouth vicar, Father Andrew Langley.
He said “I wanted to have a bit of a sing-song and to re-tell the Christmas story through the eyes of the donkey who carried Mary to Bethlehem, so I hired a pantomime donkey costume.”
He said Covid precautions were taken.
Halfway through the event the pantomime donkey was revealed to be none other than the Right Reverend Nick Mckinnel, Bishop of Plymouth, with the Mayor of Dartmouth, Graham Webb, bringing up the rear.
Reverend Langley said “When we took the head off people couldn’t believe it was a bishop!”
Bishop Nick said “It’s not as easy as it sounds, being a pantomime donkey, but as the donkey brought Mary to Bethlehem, so this was a great way to bring the Christmas message to Dartmouth and Stoke Fleming.”
Once on stage Bishop Nick said a prayer of blessing for everyone there.
Families attended the event in their cars, with a socially-distanced band from the Flavel church, Dartmouth, leading the singing from a trailer.
There was also a visit from Father Christmas and alpaca wearing antlers.
Dartmouth’s town criers Les and Liz Ellis compered the event, which had been their idea.
Father Langley said the donkey was central to the Christmas story because “By carrying Mary and the unborn baby Jesus to Bethlehem, he played a really important part in the story that made a huge difference that first Christmas.
“Even though this Christmas is likely to be different and we’ll see more people on Zoom etc, its really important that we let them know how much we love them because that’ll make a huge difference, just like God showed how much he loves us when Jesus was born that first Christmas.”