“This is your parish church; whether you’re a regular visitor, or just use the church to cut through from Piccadilly to Jermyn Street – we all know you do it!” Rev. Lucy Winkett welcomes a star-studded audience from the pulpit of St James’s Church, which has been transformed with dramatic and colourful stage lighting for the Fayre of St James’s.
The kick-off to the festive season, the fayre is a carol concert and Christmas party like no other, and is organised by local landlords The Crown Estate and the Quintessentially Foundation – the charity arm of events group Quintessentially, who at this year’s fayre are raising for Cheryl's Trust.
After a performance of The Nutcracker to melt the hearts of the most miserly of Scrooges by the children of the Laura Bruce Dance Academy, we were treated to a performance by tenor Paul Potts.
The ex-Carphone Warehouse salesman who rose to national treasure status with his performance on Britain’s Got Talent, neatly described the plot of Turandot – “imagine a woman who had a temper tantrum to put Kanye West to shame” – before singing his signature rendition of Nessun Dorma.
Actors Will Poulter and Joely Richardon read brilliantly, with excerpts from The Nutcracker and an alternative reality of 'Twas the Night Before Christmas, respectively.
Music artist Cheryl of Cheryl’s Trust thanked the audience “ from the bottom of my heart – I’ve been overwhelmed by your support” before introducing Abby Young, who shared her story and demonstrated how she had greatly benefitted from The Prince’s Trust – the fellow charity at this year’s fayre.
“Please don’t feel constrained by the pews” the Reverend then introduced Olly Murs to the altar, where he twirled and grooved in tight plaid trousers to a number of his hits as well as Last Christmas by Wham! Disarming as ever, he brought the audience to their feet.
Accompanied by the excellent and incredible feats of singing gymnastics by Urban Voices Collective, guests moved out to a sub zero Jermyn Street, where The Crown Estate CEO Alison Nimmo said it was an honour to see St James’s continue to go from strength to strength, including with the new St James’s Market scheme.
Nimmo was joined by Cheryl for the countdown to the switching on of the Jermyn Street Christmas lights, which, with their new design, sees a row of large illuminated angels, beautifully evoking the spirit of Christmas.