What is fast becoming a festive tradition is to be celebrated again this Christmas.
For the sixth successive year, the International Peace Light will be brought to the Isle of Man, accompanied by local Scouts and Guides.
They and the lit flame will sail to the island for a service at St Ninian’s Church in Douglas on Friday, December 20, at 7pm, which will be attended by Lieutenant Governor Sir Richard Gozney and Lord Bishop Peter Eagles.
A group of nine, including five members of the island’s Scouts and Guides representing each of the older groups (Scouts, Sea Scouts, Explorers, Guides and Senior Section), will first attend a service in St Helens, Merseyside, and kindle their own light for the island.
Guy Thompson, Island Commissioner for Scouts, said: ’This is a tradition which goes back to 1986 when a child from Austria first travelled to Bethlehem and kindled a light from the Eternal Flame inside the Church of the Nativity.
’The Light is then flown to Austria where it is distributed to delegations from around the world at a service of dedication and distribution.
’Thanks to co-operation between the Scouts and Guides in many countries, the Light has travelled throughout Europe, America, Canada and Australasia and, in the Isle of Man again this year, we will be doing our bit with Scouts and Guides taking it into the community.’
Following the service, which will be conducted by chaplain of the Scout Association Isle of Man, Reverend Alex Brown, the flame will be ’distributed’ to a number of island churches of all denominations, residential and care homes, Isle of Man Hospice, Rebecca House and various community groups.
Mr Thompson added: ’This has become an important island-wide event and to bring the Bethlehem Peace Light over really does mean a huge amount to the local Scout and Guide associations and the communities who receive a flame from it. The flame is transported in an old railway lamp and our group stays in a local scout hall in St Helens when we go over to collect it.
’We fundraise over the festive period to help fund this trip and it would be difficult without the support of the Isle of Man Steam Packet. I would like to thank them sincerely for helping us meet the cost of travel and making it possible for the lit flame to be transported.’
In previous years the light has been presented to Pope Francis, members of the European Union Parliament in Strasbourg, UN Troops in Kosovo and continues to be taken to Ground Zero, New York.