DURHAM Cathedral is to bring festive cheer to those imprisoned this year by sharing a broadcast of their ever-popular Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols to an educational prison TV network, WayOut TV.

The Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is a real highlight of the Christmas season, with the joyful liturgy, readings, and music sung by Durham Cathedral Choir heralding the birth of Christ. This year the service will be pre-recorded and broadcast via the cathedral's YouTube and Facebook pages, instead of being open to the public. It will also be broadcast to prisoners across the country on Christmas Eve, in a specially-produced version.

It is the brainchild of Reverend Canon Matthew Tetley, managing chaplain at HMP Durham, who said a walk around the prison reminded him of how much of the cathedral the prisoners see every day during their allotted exercise time.

He said: "As I was walking around HMP Durham, it struck me just how difficult this year has been for everybody and for people inside prison it has had particular difficulties.

"Prisoners have had to isolate for much of the day owing to the necessary Covid rules in place and this for some has understandably had an impact on their wellbeing.Durham Cathedral is one of the most apparent landmarks visible from HMP Durham and so many of the prisoners feel this deep connection with the building.

"Having the cathedral as a focal point of hope and faith has been a great support to prison residents and I am sure it will continue to be over Advent."

The Reverend Canon Michael Hampel, Vice- Dean and Precentor at Durham Cathedral said: "While Durham Cathedral and Durham Prison may appear to be very different places at one level, on another level they are both places of reflection and renewal.

"To build bridges of prayer between the two institutions is a Christ-like thing to do and we do it with peace and goodwill this Christmas as we share the joy of our carols with those whose marking of Christmas will otherwise be very different from the Christmas that most of us will enjoy."