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Durham Doctor lights Durham Cathedral’s Christmas tree during festive service

14 December 2020

Yesterday afternoon Tara Watkiss, a doctor from University Hospital of North Durham switched on the lights of Durham Cathedral’s gigantic Christmas tree during a special festive online service.

A tradition normally reserved for children from the Cathedral community was extended to Tara, who is a true hero of 2020 alongside her colleagues working on the frontline in the NHS.

Tara said: “It’s was honour to light the tree at Durham Cathedral on behalf of my NHS colleagues who have all had to adapt and make sacrifices of some kind this year. My colleagues and I have tried to do the very best for each and every patient in what has been an exceptionally challenging year and we will continue to do so over the festive period and into the New Year.”

The service also featured the blessing of the crib as well as carols including Away in Manger , O Little Town of Bethlehem and In the Bleak Midwinter sung by the Durham Cathedral Choir.

The Reverend Canon Michael Hampel, Vice- Dean and Precentor at Durham Cathedral said: “It was wonderful to take this opportunity to salute the NHS for all they are and for all that they mean to us. It was our pleasure to welcome Tara Watkiss to the cathedral and we ask her to take our prayers and gratitude back to her colleagues at the University Hospital of North Durham.”

The Reverend Kevin Tromans, Senior Chaplain at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust was also in attendance at the service to watch the monumental event as a specially invited guest.

In past years, people have generously brought toys wrapped up as Christmas presents to place under the Cathedral’s Christmas tree for the Salvation Army’s Christmas toy appeal, but given the circumstances this year the cathedral are encouraging online donations instead via Local Giving (If donating, please mark your donation in the comment box with ‘Toy Appeal’).