BBC Radio York presenter; here is his interview on Sunday 18 December 2005. The 2008 Christmas brochure is attached at the bottom of this webpage.
AT: To be waking up on Christmas Morning in a hotel room, having a Christmas away from home, with everything done for you seems like a good idea but one element could be missing. Where do you go for Christmas Services? Well, enter Churches Together in Harrogate and its secretary, Humph Baker. Humph, good morning!
HJB: Good morning Adam.
AT: You've got a pretty obvious idea here, but the obvious and the simple ideas are often the best. Just explain what Churches Together in Harrogate are doing in connection with the hotels.
HJB: Well, we've simply responded to a request. A few years ago, one of the hotels rang me and said ‘please could we have a list of all your Christmas services'. It was as simple as that. So I pulled everything together, we put a brochure together and we now have a print run of maybe four or five thousand and there's enough for one for every bedroom across the hotels of Harrogate.
AT: So, in other words, it accompanies the good old Gideon bible?
HJB: Spot on.
AT: It is an obvious and it is a simple idea. Have you any idea why it's not happened before?
HJB: Well, Churches all over the country have been putting posters up over Christmas time, but this takes it one stage further because we've put a map on the back of the brochure so that it even helps people find the Church they're looking for. Of course, in Harrogate we have over forty Churches with Christingles going on, and all that sort of thing – we've taken it to the next level up by providing a lot more information than just these are the services at the Baptist Church, for example.
AT: You've also done – I'm looking at it now ‘cos you've sent me a copy on email, so I'm looking at it on your Churches Together website now – not only are you doing it for Christmas starting Christmas Eve, Christmas Day but you've done it right the way through Advent.
HJB: Yes, this year we were really on top of the job. We managed to get it out by the end of November so, I don't know, perhaps we're working a bit harder. But the listing includes all sorts of special events. I mentioned Christingle – it was good to hear on the news of the Christingle in York – there are Christingles happening all across Yorkshire; there's one at 3 o'clock this afternoon at St Luke's but we've got other special events like Quintessential doing Madrigals, we've got Stuart Menzies Farrant this Friday at St Peter's. There is so much going on at Christmas but what's really surprised me, Adam, is hearing from the Churches and the Church Leaders, saying do be careful because some of these are booked up, even an hour before the event starts. That's terrific but wonderful to see that there's so much going on and the listing gives you the opportunity to pick and chose.
AT: I'm just looking now at the listing now for Christmas Eve which goes off the bottom of the page, and so too does Christmas Day of course, with 8 o'clock Holy Communions, there are 9 o'clock Services, 10 o'clock Family Services – that list falls off the bottom of the page as well. Do you know for a fact that the people who are staying in the hotels in Harrogate and Harrogate District, that they use this and it is greatly appreciated by visitors?
HJB: Oh yes, yes, yes! A couple of years ago I had a report in from one of the Roman Catholic priests complaining that he'd had twenty calls this year, telephone calls – I apologised for that – and he said ‘no, usually I get sixty calls'. So people are using the leaflet – he actually had more people coming to Church that year as well. People are using the leaflet instead of ringing the local Churches to find out what's going on. Of course, you can also, as well as get it from our website, you can get it from Tourist Information and shops. So the information is there helping an awful lot of people. I heard that last year people came from one Church to Tourist Information to pick up a leaflet to find out what was going on in all the other Churches. I think that's terrific news!
AT: Not only are you providing a service for visitors to the District but I suppose really the hotels must be chuffed to bits because it saves them one heck of a headache trying to get it all together.
HJB: Which is why the first call I had this year saying please can we have the leaflets was back in October, so they obviously love it. I'm pretty certain we managed to get every hotel but if anybody hasn't, then do visit the Churches Together website and get in touch and I'll make sure that anybody missing, we'll supply them.
AT: And it goes without saying that it's good for the churches.
HJB: Oh yes. It was lovely to hear the report earlier about a reindeer is for life and not just for Christmas but wouldn't it be lovely if the Churches were full every day.
AT: Humph, thanks very much indeed for joining us this morning.
HJB: It's lovely to hear you. All the best for Christmas, Adam.
AT: And the same to you. Thanks very much indeed.
AT: Humph Baker – he's the secretary of Churches Together in Harrogate. If you want to have a look at this listing – it's incredibly comprehensive – then the website is www.ctharrogate.org.uk , that brings you to the front page, then click on listings and there you have it. It covers a huge amount of services, as I say, going back to Advent Sunday on the 27 November and as you can imagine, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day – it's a pretty comprehensive list.