Preston does have Passion

UCLan student Thomas Ingham and Jean McDonald from Preston take the leading roles in the Preston Passion
UCLan student Thomas Ingham and Jean McDonald from Preston take the leading roles in the Preston Passion
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With cameras poised, the orchestra tuned and the stars ready to perform Preston is buzzing with Passion.

The eyes of the nation will fall on the city on Friday when the hour-long Passion programme is broadcast on BBC 1 at midday, from the city’s bus station concourse.

Throngs of spectators will watch on as Fern Britton leads the live broadcast, which will include a choir, scenes on the concourse and three films inspired by real tales of Prestonians’ lives.

With the traffic banished from nearby Tithebarn Street, hundreds of curious onlookers yesterday wandered down, marvelling at a big screen which showed images of the city.

As the choir went through its challenging repertoire, making sure its singers were perfectly in time with the orchestra, a huge cross was hoisted on top of the station, while cameramen checked their views.

Then as the crisp late afternoon sun descended on the famous station, slicing its sweeping car park in two, a full rehearsal got underway as the excitement began to build.

Margaret Nelson, 69, of Burrow Road, Deepdale, Preston, who is a member of the choir which will sing to the nation, said: “I will be extremely proud.

“This will be my fourth Guild and this is an essential part of the whole year.

“The most proud part for me will be really being involved, it will be wonderful to be a part of a big choir. It is going to be exciting.” Christine Kaye, from Penwortham, who is a member of the St Ignatius Church choir and will also sing in the Passion, said: “I am really excited about it.

“We are delighted to get involved.

“It an important time of the year and we shall sing it from the roof tops. It should raise the profile of Preston.”

During the rehearsal crowds enjoyed a preview of the pre-recorded films on the screen which reached almost as high as the car park’s third floor, interspersed with scenes acted on the station’s concourse.

Joe Millen, 46, of Scotforth Road, Fishwick, Preston, was so proud of his city for hosting the Passion, he felt compelled to see the rehearsal.

“It is absolutely wonderful, it is absolutely brilliant”, he said. I even have goose pimples watching this now.

“Preston is the only city that holds this kind of pageant and for that I am really proud of it.”

The station normally hums with buses on a Thursday evening and the unusual spectacle of breakfast television hosts and orchestras in bus bays, also created a stir among those who had not yet entered the Guild spirit.

Megan Kearley, 24, of Fylde Road, Preston, who has recently moved to the city to start a marketing business, said: “I was just curious, I did not know what was going on so I thought I would come down for a look.

“I think it will be a good day in the limelight for Preston.”

Fleur Sherlock, who runs The Tithebarn pub, said: “Hopefully it will bring lots of people to the city.”