The Gloucester Salvation Army hosted the Annual Cloud 9 Christmas Carol service on Friday, 1 December 2006. This year's event had special significance as it marks the 20th anniversary of the Cloud 9 charity, which provides terminally and seriously ill children with vacations to Walt Disney World in Florida. Many of those in attendance were families who have been helped by this organization throughout the years. The Gloucester Salvation Army Band (Bandmaster Clifford Matthews) and Songsters provided musical support for the event, and the Gloucester Salvation Army's Activ8 Puppet Crew acted as the compère for the evening.
The band opened the festivities with the march Christmas Joy (Erik Leidzén), which includes a number of familiar Christmas carols, with the audience clapping along. Liz White, the Cloud 9 Co-ordinator, welcomed everyone to the service and gave some insights on how the children benefit from the funds that are raised. To commemorate children who have been on the Cloud 9 holidays and have now passed on, the audience observed a momemt of silence and a candle was lit.
Major Paul Doust gave the invocation and then Mike Essex, a Cloud 9 volunteer and Salvationist, introduced the Activ8 Puppet Crew, which served as the “Master of Ceremonies” for the evening.
There were a number of congregational carols sung, including Hark the Herald Angels, Away in a Manger, Calypso Carol, While Shepherds Watched and O Come, All Ye Faithful. The Songsters also contributed, presenting O Joyful News and The Virgin Mary Had a Baby Boy. Jon Bishton (with the help of Jotham Prescott) presented a sketch entitled “The Tickle”, and Major Lorna Doust gave a devotional thought.
Following the service, the Gloucester Band struck up the march Shining Star, and Santa Claus appeared with a bag full of toys and sweets for everyone.
Gloucester Corps web site