A stellar cast of celebrities has raised more than £65,000 for a cancer charity with a Christmas concert in Oxford shown online.

A group of nine local volunteers wanted to continue to fundraise for Macmillan Cancer Support despite coronavirus.

They knew they would not be able to stage the usual annual event in Christ Church Cathedral so they decided to organise a fundraising concert which could be shown online instead.

The online concert featured numerous celebrities who volunteered to take part, including Joanna Lumley and Stephen Fry, and was appropriately named Follow the Stars.

Oxford Mail:

Stephen Fry

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Organisers said they were delighted the concert had been so successful, maintaining a festive fundraising tradition dating back 24 years.

Sandra Devaney, chair of the volunteer group, said: “Thank you to all those who have helped us achieve our aim of raising sufficient funds for a Macmillan Cancer Support nurse for one year.

“Over £65,000 has been raised through the generosity of those who have watched Follow the Stars and donated so that Macmillan Cancer Support can continue their valuable work.

Oxford Mail:

Singers in the cathedral

"It is hoped that further funds will be received as Follow the Stars remained online throughout the festive period.

“We were guessing that by now we’d all be needing some Christmas cheer so we’ve made Follow the Stars fun and uplifting with wonderful Christmas themed music and thought-provoking, memorable and poignant readings delivered by top actors and musicians.”

Oxford Mail:

Toby Jones

“Let’s raise a glass to the wonderful work of Macmillan,” said actress Joanna Lumley, in the opening sequence of the Celebration of Christmas concert.

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Joining the actress to deliver seasonal readings and poetry were a host of much-loved actors, poets and renowned musicians.

They included Sinead Cusack (King Lear, V for Vendetta,), Stephen Fry (actor, writer, host of QI and so much more), Jeremy Irons (Watchmen, Red Sparrow and Brideshead Revisited), Max Irons (Condor, The Wife, The Riot Club), Toby Jones, (Uncle Vanya, the Detectorists), Greg Wise and poet Benjamin Zephaniah.

TV presenter Alexander Armstrong introduced musicians from Christ Church Cathedral in Oxford.

Oxford Mail:

Alexander Armstrong

World-leading baritones Roderick Williams OBE and Christopher Purves sang The Three Kings, while Alexander Armstrong’s son and New College chorister Paddy Armstrong sang solo In the Bleak Midwinter.

The voices of the Oxford Bach Soloists, directed by Tom Hammond-Davies and supported by organist Steven Grahl, performed Christmas-themed music.

The concert premiered on December 11 and remained online until Thursday.

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Mr Fry said: “Macmillan needs to raise money to continue providing vital support to people living with cancer.

“The volunteers have done a fantastic job of taking a much-loved festive event and adapting it to work in this most unusual of years.”