John Middleton is to be the narrator at the premiere of The Story of Christmas with Carols – a specially written and staged version of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem and the birth of Jesus – which will be performed at Ripon Cathedral on Saturday 2nd December at 7.30pm.
John played the Rev Ashley Thomas in Emmerdale for 21 years and won widespread critical acclaim for his performance recording the decline and subsequent death of dementia sufferer Ashley. He won three separate awards – including Best Actor – at the 2017 British Soap Awards and also helped the series scoop its first prestigious BAFTA Award for Best Soap. John was also awarded Best Actor at the 2017 Royal Television Society Yorkshire Awards.
The Story of Christmas with Carols will also involve dancers from the Academy of Northern Ballet, choirs from Ripon Cathedral and Ripon Grammar School, pupils from Queen Ethelburga’s and will also feature a donkey. The performance will raise funds for the Ripon Cathedral Music Trust. The trust has so far raised some £700,000 as part of a major appeal to ensure the music at the cathedral – which has a nationwide reputation – is secured in perpetuity.
The music trust chairman Sir Andrew Lawson-Tancred said:
The music at the cathedral currently costs some £250,000 pa which comes out of the cathedral’s overall operating budget. This is already at full stretch and our plan is to establish a separate fund to meet the music department’s running costs which will ensure this valuable musical heritage is secure for the future.
I am very excited about this forthcoming performance and strongly encourage people to come along. It will give a new slant to the Christmas narrative and the audience will also have the opportunity to join in some much-loved Christmas carols as well.
The Story of Christmas with Carols – which also features local actors – is being directed by Gary Broad from Burton Leonard and Judith Graham from Wath. The producers, who are also music trustees, are Carolyn Collin from Roecliffe and Jayne Bailey from Harrogate.