Blackburn Salvation Army provided the music for the unique service
Thousands of people in Lancashire came together this Christmas for the county's first interactive carol concert.
Singers and musicians performed live in the BBC Radio Lancashire's Radio Theatre for the unique carol service.
People gathered at pubs, community centres, supermarkets, and even a funeral parlour to listen and join in the festive sing song.
It was co-ordinated by Churches Together in Lancashire.
And the music was provided by Blackburn Salvation Army Band.
The size of crowds were staggering with the Bishop of Lancaster, the Right Reverend Geoff Pearson, describing it as 'fantastic!'
Seeds were sown
Two hundred gathered together at the Farmer's Arms in Whitestake.
Seventy at Penwortham Golf Club, 26 (and a dog!) on a freezing night on platform four of Preston Railway Station while the whole village came out in Scorton to enjoy mince pies and mulled wine at The Priory.
It seemed incongruous to be looking forward to both the World Cup and Christmas at the same time, but talk of a big interactive carol event to be spread via the radio to all areas of the county began before we heard the first strains of the vuvuzela.
In fact, we were just getting used to the machinations of a coalition government when the seeds were sown for this county wide event.
There had been similar projects like this before and BBC Radio Lancashire had been part of it. A few years ago, we joined our friends at BBC Radio Manchester who produced North West Sings. It was the brain child of broadcaster Mike Shaft and for a couple of years was a fine addition to our Christmas schedules.
This year, when Nick Moxon, Mission Enabler for the Methodist Church in Lancashire, and Debbie Peatman, Ecumenical Development Officer for Churches Together in Lancashire, approached BBC Radio Lancashire they talked about a more streamlined event purely for Lancashire.
Other regions had tried it, notably in the south west and at BBC Radio Leicester. The principle of the programme was to have a central carol service broadcast on the radio with people in towns and villages gathering together locally to sing along and perhaps make a night of it in their own way.
Mainly for technical reasons, the central location we decided on was the BBC Radio Lancashire Radio Theatre but there was a sticking point
. the date.
At Preston train station 26 people and a dog sang along to the carols
To get the programme on air we at BBC Radio Lancashire would need all our transmitters and over the years our planning has become increasingly wary of the vagaries of the football fixtures.
Teams seem to play on most days of the week and, with the station being the number one football service in the region, football fans would expect coverage if one of our teams were playing on the night we had designated to sing carols.
We were desperate to avoid the "Just a moment Bishop, we'll sing O Come All Ye Faithful in a minute but firstly the faithful at Deepdale would like to hear how North End has gone one up!"
For Lancashire Sings Christmas to work this had to be an hour devoted solely to the carol service.
Eventually we honed in on Tuesday 21 December and hoped that it wouldn't clash with a game. Over several coffees on several occasions at a well known garden centre in Lancashire we met to work out the nuts and bolts.
Nick Moxon's job was the website and the resource materials, Debbie was down for creating the service and it was up to me to make sure it all reached a radio near you. Several meetings later, the odd bit of creative difference smoothed over and we were set fair for December.
There was a common worry. This was the first time we had done a broadcast on this kind of scale and we had no idea if anyone would be in the least bit interested! How many groups around Lancashire would trouble to join us on a wintery December night a few days from Christmas?
Would people support it or would they opt for the seemingly cosier prospect of Eastenders and Emmerdale?
So, with haunting uncertainty, at the end of September, the three of us launched Lancashire Sings Christmas on our Sunday morning faith based breakfast programme and to our great pleasure, slowly but surely, it caught on big time.
First up were the hardy folk of the picturesque village of Scorton who organized to gather in the village square. Then came a couple of pubs, a housing estate in Colne, another pub, a supermarket in Leyland, more pubs, church halls, village halls, even more pubs, a care home in Pilling and blow me if several more pubs didn't sign up as well!
Nearly lit cigars
It was fantastic, we couldn't believe the support as week by week more and more people organized events near them to suit their own needs. Some were gathering just for the singing, some were adding quizzes, others making a bigger night of it.
We thought we might get a dozen locations who would sign up. We nearly lit cigars at 30 and the final tot up showed more than 70 different events all tuned in to Lancashire Sings Christmas. We should have known better than to doubt, after all the theme of the evening was hope.
People gathered at over 70 venues including a funeral parlour to join in
On the night, The Blackburn Salvation Army played and we all sang. The Radio Theatre was full and the voices were loud, clear and hearty as they filled radios across Lancashire.
We heard about hopes and aspirations for Christmas.
Sarah from the Wesley Hall Asylum Seekers project in Blackburn read the story of The Birth of Jesus, children gathered with the families at the William Mitchell Inn gave us their Christmas wishes.
At the Open Door project at Grange Park in Blackpool, the chair of the Lancashire Methodists, the Reverend Stephen Poxon, told us, "Community is at the centre of who we are and Christmas is about community."
At the Boot and Shoe on Scotforth Road in Lancaster, youngster Anna Harrison read a Christmas prayer thanking Jesus for Christmas and remembering those for whom Christmas may not be as happy as they would wish.
And with our 11th carol, a rousing rendition of "O Come All Ye Faithful", we closed Lancashire Sing Christmas.
The texts still came in. Hope House Care Home in Clayton-Le-Moors enjoyed their free mince pies from a local supermarket.
Lindy sent us Christmas greetings from the people gathered around the Christmas tree in Goosnargh. There was Charleston House Sheltered Housing Centre in Bamber Bridge.
The Hare and Hounds in Harle Syke got in touch, people gathered at Booth's Supermarket in Poulton-Le-Fylde and so it went on. One hundred and thirty five texts in one hour
sometimes from people who choose to stay at home like Sue and Gordon Halliwell who were enjoying the programme and singing along in their house in Bispham.
In all, a marvellous night.
Joe Wilson joining in with the sing song in the Radio Theatre
I remember saying at one of the planning meetings that we had to reach the end of the programme and have people walk away saying "I enjoyed that".
I'm certain that happened and that thousands around the county will remember with fond memories the night Lancashire Sang Christmas.
And if you missed the live event, you have two chances to hear the full concert on BBBC Radio Lancashire - on Christmas Eve at 1300 GMT and again on Christmas Day at 1900.
You can also download the
and get more details of the event on the
Lancashire Sings Christmas
Joe Wilson, who hosted Lancashire Sings Christmas, presents the faith programme on BBC Radio Lancashire from 6am each Sunday.