£171,000 celebrated at Good Samaritans Service

Monday February 5th 2024

At Belfast Cathedral’s Good Samaritans Service are Dean Stephen Forde and special guests Alexandra Ford (left) and Tim McGarry (second right), with representatives of The Goliath Trust who received a grant from the 2023 Black Santa Appeal.

Representatives of 120 charities gathered at St Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast, on Sunday February 4 for the annual Good Samaritans Service and to celebrate the £171,000 raised by the 2023 Black Santa Sit-out. [Photo Gallery below]

Welcoming guests from across Northern Ireland, Dean Stephen Forde said this was one of his favourite services of the year. “With the generosity of the people from Belfast and across the province, we have raised £171,000, and today I have the huge privilege of giving away that money to 120 charities,” the Dean said.

The 47th annual Sit-out took place in the 10 days before Christmas, with Dean Forde on the steps of the Cathedral daily, supported by the Bishops of Connor and Down and Dromore, Cathedral Canons, clergy and other friends.

Special guests at Sunday’s service were actors Tim McGarry and Alexandra Ford. Welcoming them, the Dean added: “Tim and Alexandra are not the stars of the service. The stars are you, as representatives of charities who have kept going through the cost-of-living crisis, who have supported people impacted by drug abuse and who have supported those whose lives have been changed by Covid.

“A galaxy of work and care and service which you, as members of amazing charities, give every day to young people, older people and people who triumph over challenges.”

Tim and Alexandra with therapy dog Maisie.

In his reflection, Tim McGarry said the Good Samaritans Service was a highlight of his year too, describing the Black Santa Sit-out as ‘one of the bright lights in Belfast and Northern Ireland.’ Adding that the £171,000 raised had been donated by ‘normal people,’ Tim said: “It is all about love, kindness and goodness.”

During the service, the names of each of the charities awarded funding in different fields were read out. These were: Supporting the most disadvantaged families and individuals in our communities; working with those impacted by drug abuse; providing bereavement support in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic; groups doing charitable work in our communities; and charities working internationally.

There was applause for each charity representative in acknowledgement of the work they carry out and the difference their charities make.

The service took the form of Evensong, with music from the Cathedral Choir, conducted by Master of Music Jack Wilson, with Stephen Hamill at the organ.  Alexandra Ford read the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and a collection was taken for the 2024 Black Santa Appeal.

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