Community prepares Covid-secure Christmas celebrations 

Town band playing in a church at Christmas

A virtual carolling service featuring the Dereham Town Band will be published on YouTube by St Nicholas’ Church Dereham - Credit: Paul Cubitt

From socially distanced public houses to virtual carolling services, the residents and businesses of Dereham are working to ensure that coronavirus will not stop us celebrating this Christmas. 

Christmas beer hamper on table

The Cock is offering a selection of Christmas goodies that are available to take away - Credit: Steve Garner

We are in for an unusual holiday season this year – and individuals at the heart of the community are generating some novel ways to ensure we can all celebrate safely.  

Steve Garner, landlord of The Cock on Norwich Street, has set up a marquee in the pub’s yard festooned with Christmas lights where up to six people can meet and order drinks with food, such as homemade soups, cakes, rolls and charcuterie boards with artisan meats and cheeses. There are also some special treats available that can be enjoyed at home.  

“We are selling gift-wrapped Christmas mini-kegs and bottles of festive ale in a carrier,” Mr Garner says. “We also have ‘Beer-To-Go’ carry kegs that customers can take away with draft beer that we have on tap.” 

Specialising in real ale, The Cock has a number of festive pints on tap, including their own brew called Santa’s Sack, a 5% ABV bitter with a hint of cinnamon, and Santa Paws by Wolf Brewery, a 4.5% ABV winter ale with caramel and chocolate flavours.  

The Cock will be open 11am to 11pm starting Monday 21 December and will be open from 11am until 3pm on Christmas Day. “We advise customers to book a table which they can do by calling 01362 693393 or via our website at www.the-cock.co.uk

“This was our first year in business,” Mr Garner adds. “We’ve got through to the end of the year in a global pandemic so we’ve had a tremendous amount of support. We want to thank everyone for supporting us through thick and thin.” 

The latest government advice stipulates that door-to-door carolling is permitted in groups of up to six people, provided that carollers are socially distanced and stay at least two metres from “the threshold of any dwelling”. But due to the fact that activities such as singing, shouting and chanting create aerosols that are known to increase the risk of virus transmission, traditional indoor Christmas congregations featuring choirs will have limited attendance in order to remain safe.  

So, how can we continue to sing our favourite carols with our loved ones this year? The Reverend Paul Cubitt from the Dereham District Team Ministry has come up with a clever solution in the form of a virtual carolling service on YouTube.  

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“If you want to attend in person, we are still having carol services, but congregations are not allowed to sing and numbers are limited in order to ensure the service is Covid-secure,” Mr Cubitt says. “To compensate for that, I am doing a carol service that will be on our YouTube channel and will be shared across all the social media platforms in Dereham. It will look like a production from Songs of Praise.” 

The Dereham Town Band were recorded performing in St Nicholas’ Church on Sunday afternoon for the production and a number of local schools and residents are also involved.  

“You can find the service on our YouTube channel – St Nicholas’ Church Dereham – and it will be up and running on Saturday 19 December. This way, people can sing the carols at the top of their voices in the safety of their own homes,” Mr Cubitt adds.  

There will also be a Christingle service posted online.  

“Normally on Christmas Eve we get around 300 people at each of our three consecutive Christingle services. Unfortunately, this cannot happen this year. Instead, we’ll have an online service on Christmas Eve. Christingle kits can be picked up from church so people can collect the necessary bits to build a Christingle and leave a donation for the Children’s Society if they would like to. 

“We all know this year has been really, really tough. The message of Christmas has always been about light in darkness. We’ve had it particularly difficult this year but in the light of Christmas is the message of hope.”

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