19 December 2017Download the audio file
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A beloved Australian tradition, Vision Australia’s Carols by Candlelight has a remarkable history of supporting children who are blind or have low vision and this year marks the 80th anniversary for the iconic Christmas celebration. Eighty years ago, the vision of one man, Norman Banks MBE, created what has become Australia’s most iconic Christmas event. A veteran of radio, Banks was walking home on Christmas Eve in 1937, when he noticed an elderly woman sitting up in bed by her window, her face lit only by a candle. She had a radio beside her and was singing along to the Christmas carol, ‘Away in a Manger’. It was at this moment that Banks was inspired to create a gathering of people to sing Carols by Candlelight. Thanks to the gracious personal interest of the Lord Mayor at the time, Cr. A.W. Coles, Norman Banks gained the approval of the City Council and set to work organising the whole program. And so, in 1938, ten thousand people gathered at midnight in the Alexandra Gardens to sing carols with a 30-strong choir, two soloists and the Metropolitan Fire Brigade Band. The unusual candlelight setting, and the beauty of the carols, instantly won the affection of the large assembly. A new Christmas tradition was born.
For more information on the Carols By Candlelight Specials and to listen to previous specials, go to varadio.org/program/carols-by-candlelight-special