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Crouch End congregation creates ‘unique and special’ birthday DVD

07:00 09 February 2013

The Congregation of St Peter in Chains RC church, Crouch End, has made a film for Richard Halliday's 25th birthday.

The Congregation of St Peter in Chains RC church, Crouch End, has made a film for Richard Halliday's 25th birthday.

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

A Crouch End congregation has come together to create a “unique and special” birthday film for one of its hymn-loving members.

Sue Hessel, Richard Halliday, mum Mary and Richard's support worker Ryan MurphySue Hessel, Richard Halliday, mum Mary and Richard's support worker Ryan Murphy

The congregation of St Peter in Chains created the film for Richard Halliday’s 25th birthday in October after he asked choir organiser Sue Hessel to make a recording of some of his favourite church music.

But Mrs Hessel decided to go one step further and make a DVD, dedicated to the young man, who has been left with physical and learning disabilities due to cerebral palsy.

Her enthusiasm soon spread, with church members like BBC cameraman Gordon Hickie, filmmaker Walter Stabb, and graphic designer Maria Kaleta all offering their services to help make the film.

And then there were all the parishioners, who packed into the Womersley Road church for Mass at the end of September to add their voices to those of the choir’s – all inspired by Mr Halliday, a member of the congregation for 15 years.

“Richard was an amazing catalyst,” said Mrs Hessel. “People with learning difficulties have amazing gifts in actually bringing out the best in people.”

However, she acknowledged, it probably helped that “nobody in Crouch End is shy” which meant everyone was happy to sing their hearts out for the cameras.

Mr Halliday was not just sitting back and letting everyone else do the hard work, though. He chose each and every song which has been included on the DVD.

Mrs Hessel revealed: “He has brilliant taste.”

The finished product – For Richard, With Love and Prayers – is now ready for everyone to see, and is to be properly launched.

Now the finished product is now finally ready, the 30 minute film will be formally presented to Mr Halliday at this Sunday’s family Mass at 11.15am.

Mum Mary, who lives with her son in Islington, said he was delighted with the results.

“Richard has been so happy – it has been a really lovely positive experience,” she said. “It was something quite unique and special. The church was packed [for the recording] and it was lovely to see the children who were singing their hearts out.”

What’s more, it hasn’t just been a positive experience for Mr Halliday – the DVD is also going on sale at £10 each to help renovate a few of the churches disused rooms so they can be utilised by the wider community.

Mrs Halliday said: “It is not just for Richard – everybody is going to gain as well. They are going to get a lovely new hall and social room.”

For Richard will be premiered at a party on Friday at St Peter in Chains RC infant school at 7.30pm. All are welcome.

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