Staff and students have worked with a local junior school choir, band and others to produce their latest festive feel-good tune to send a message that no one should be alone this Christmas – and helping to raise awareness and funds for Age UK Oldham.
Christmas Is Here is an original heart-warming song co-written by lead vocalist Laura Purdey (Manager of the Grange Theatre) and James Atherton (Artistic Director at Oldham Theatre Workshop).
In a throwback to December 2019, the video features Terrence Brian, the octogenarian Shaw resident who at that time had spent every Christmas Day alone for the previous 20 years.
When he told BBC Breakfast he didn’t even own a Christmas tree, Oldham College swiftly delivered one to his home along with a choir to sing his favourite carol, Silent Night, on his doorstep – famously reducing him to floods of happy tears.
Terrence’s story touched millions of people up and down the country – and worldwide – that year. The video went viral with more than 30m views and this year’s single aims to further raise awareness that ‘No one should have no one’ – especially at this time of year.
The original story prompted thousands of people to join Age UK’s initiative to befriend vulnerable folk – and Terrence has kept in touch with many new friends he made that day.
One of them is Sophie Jones, now an ex Oldham College student, who also features in the video. She was amongst those visiting Terrence at his home that night in 2019 and the experience then inspired her to purse a new career in healthcare.
Learners from Hodge Cough Primary School, who won a competition to sing the chorus, and the Oldham Band (Lees) also star in the song and video released today.
Please help support this cause by streaming – but especially buying – ‘Christmas Is Here’ now from major online outlets – including Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music – by searching for ‘Christmas Is Here OC Hodge Clough’.
Alun Francis, Oldham College Principal and Chief Executive, said: “We’re excited to be releasing Christmas Is Here – and we really hope it makes people think.”
“As well as teaching learners great skills, we also try to guide them to be positive, compassionate and caring members of society through all sorts of projects and experiences like this.
“The journey our students and staff had with Terrence back in 2019 was truly incredible: and the world has changed a lot since then because of the pandemic.
“If Christmas 2021 is more like ‘normal’ than last year, then that will be great for many people – but not necessarily everyone. It would be fantastic if we can encourage more people to take extra care to look out for our neighbours, family and friends to ensure no one is left alone because Terrence taught us all that one of the happiest times of the year can also be unbearably sad for others.
“Christmas Is Here seeks to remind everyone of that, and we really hope to raise more awareness and funds for both Age UK Oldham and Age UK’s national network whose volunteers and staff do incredible things all year round – not just at Christmas.”
Age UK says almost 1.5 million older people feel more lonely at Christmas than any other time of the year – and almost 3.5 million older people are not looking forward to Christmas.
Maggie Hurley, Community and Volunteer Development Manager at Age UK Oldham, said: “Working with Oldham College on this project has been an absolute joy.”
“We are immensely proud of and thankful to them for using their talents to help towards something so close to our hearts.
“Isolation amongst older people is prevalent now more than ever and we need to work as a community to make sure we’re there for each other – especially for our older family, friends and neighbours.”