The Duchess of Gloucester has visited Salisbury Cathedral to help The Children's Society celebrate 50 years of Christingle. Her Royal Highness attended a special service to raise money to help children who are facing Christmas alone or are unable to cope.

The Duchess was joined by over 600 school children from across Wiltshire and Dorset and members of the public to commemorate the anniversary and raise awareness of the work of the charity.

Chief Executive of The Children’s Society Matthew Reed also attended the event, and said: “We are thrilled to have welcomed The Duchess of Gloucester to this very special occasion. Her Royal Highness has been involved with The Children’s Society for over 30 years and seen first-hand the work we do. Christingle is our largest fundraising event and each year we raise millions of pounds to help young people living with several serious problems in their lives today. We have already worked with over a million children and we hope that 50th anniversary services like this one will go some way to supporting even more.”

The Christingle service was introduced to the Church of England by The Children's Society in 1968, the first service was held at Lincoln Cathedral. This year numerous churches, schools and cathedrals will celebrate the landmark anniversary.

As part of the celebration The Children’s Society worked with the Royal Academy of Music and the poet Clare Shaw to create an original song for their Christingle services. Schoolchildren from the area learnt the song and performed it in front of The Duchess. A group of children also got to meet HRH and talk to her about the work of The Children’s Society.

Another attendee was Anne Faulconer MBE, a long-term supporter of The Children’s Society, who was responsible for bringing the service to Salisbury Cathedral. Anne was also celebrating her 90th birthday and said:

“I have had a fantastic birthday and feel truly blessed to have been able to share it with this special celebration for The Children’s Society. I have been supporting the charity since I was eight years old and am well aware of the first-rate work they do supporting and campaigning for vulnerable children and young people all over England. It was an honour have The Duchess of Gloucester here today and see so many enthusiastic young people taking part in the service at this remarkable place of God."

Over the past 50 years Christingle has continued to grow and this year more than 6,000 services are taking place throughout December, right through till Candlemas on February 2, 2019.

The money they raise helps to provide direct support to vulnerable children and young people who may be living in poverty, experiencing mental health issues, living in care or just about to leave the care system or at risk of sexual or criminal exploitation.

Schools in attendance included: Oare Church of England Primary School, Marlborough; Southbroom St James Church of England Primary School, Devizes; Forest and Sandridge Church of England Primary School, Melksham

The Trinity Church of England Primary School, Devizes; Bellefield Church of England Primary School, Trowbridge; Keevil Church of England Primary School, Trowbridge.