The Salvation Army brought a little Christmas joy to Stansted Airport yesterday (Monday 19 December) with carols and festive live music for passengers and airport staff.
The Salvation Army’s Stansted Airport chaplain, Major Sidney Pinches, said: “I’ve been at Stansted for three years now and Christmas is such a special time. So many people travel hundreds and thousands of miles to be with loved ones.
“However travelling can be very stressful, especially at Christmas. If we’re able to spread a little Christmas cheer as passengers and airport staff pass by then I’m happy with that.”
Chris Wiggan, Stansted Airport’s head of external relations, said: “We were delighted to host our annual Christmas carol service with The Salvation Army on Monday. Over 600,000 people will head off on their travels from Stansted Airport over the festive period and the carol service really helps everyone get in the Christmas spirit.”
Major Sidney introduced the Christmas carol service to Stansted two years ago and it’s fast becoming a tradition. On 19 December at noon – one of the busiest travel days of the year – the Stansted Airport chaplaincy team delivered a carol service and readings while a traditional Salvation Army band played.
Major Sidney is just one of many Salvation Army airport chaplains based at airports across the country. They are responsible for offering support for passengers and airport staff responding to any call for assistance, whether that’s from an individual or to the demands of a major incident. The mission of the chaplaincy team is to be there for anyone who needs its service, irrespective of denomination, faith or creed.
Last Christmas at Stansted Airport Major Sidney helped welcome 80 refugee families arriving from war-torn areas in the Middle East, offering pastoral support and a reassuring presence as the families were escorted through border control.
This year Major Sidney will even be working on Christmas Day. He said: “My role here is to be present, to be available and to listen to people. There are more than 24 million passengers a year coming and going from the airport, not to mention the 12,000 airport staff; sometimes all someone needs is a friendly face.
“Our team has been there to support passengers and airport staff through accidents and incidents. We facilitate for every faith here at Stansted. No two days are the same. Every time I turn up to a shift I face the unknown – it’s a real joy to be a chaplain here.”
For more information about The Salvation Army, please visit www.salvationarmy.org.uk