Charity singers do good

Oxford Mail: Mary Broughton, Louis Schirmacher, Imogen Charvill Ryall, Nadia Ibbotson, Ali Hague, Lois Innes and Nick Clarke Mary Broughton, Louis Schirmacher, Imogen Charvill Ryall, Nadia Ibbotson, Ali Hague, Lois Innes and Nick Clarke

TEENAGERS from Headington have been challenging negative stereotypes of young people in their community.

Over the past five years, Imogen Charvill Ryall and her friends have raised hundreds of pounds for charity by carol singing each Christmas.

And they said this year’s doorstep reception was more generous than ever.

This was despite the Archbishop of Canterbury warning earlier this week that there was a “national habit of being suspicious and hostile” toward groups of young people.

In Headington, the group of teenagers spread goodwill each Christmas by going door-to-door and singing in return for donations to worthy causes.

Miss Charvill Ryall, 17, said: “This is something we’ve been doing each year since 2007, when we decided we wanted to raise some money for the NSPCC.

“About 10 of us got together and we went carol singing all over Headington, Quarry and Shotover.”

Each year the group of teenagers, now 30-strong, support different charities,raising an average of £100 each December. In the past they have helped Amnesty International, Water Aid, a Burmese orphanage and this year raised more than £250 for Rethink Mental Illness.

Miss Charvill Ryall, a sixth-form pupil at the Cherwell School, in Marston Ferry Road, said: “We were so surprised, people were really generous.

“Usually we have quite a lot of people slamming the door on us, or shutting the curtains, but not one person did that this year.” She added: “It’s a dying tradition, which we wanted to keep up.”

The teenagers mostly attend Cherwell School, in North Oxford, and Cheney in Headington.

Miss Charvill Ryall said: “We think that teenagers get quite a bad press. We were talking about it when we were carol singing.

“But we’re showing that not all young people are a rabble.

“We’re doing something just because it’s fun and it’s all for other people. We want to show people shouldn’t stereotype us.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams warned in his New Year message of a divide between generations. He urged people to remember that the August riots across England were the work of a minority.

Most young people of their generation “strongly shared the general feeling of dismay at this behaviour,” he added.

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