05 December, 2019 Community

Carols in the community: the story of Lakeside Carols

St Michael’s is delighted to again be supporting and sponsoring Lakeside Carols, the wonderful community carols event in the City of Port Phillip. The event begins at 5pm tonight in Gasworks Arts Park, and will feature performances from two of our St Michael’s choirs, including the Boys Acapella Choir fresh off their wonderful performance (and second place) at last week’s Bay Street Festival.

Lakeside Carols began in 2018 when local City of Port Phillip residents, Liv Downing (OM 1993) and Jo Bertrand, saw a need for a carols event in their community. The pair worked tirelessly to bring their idea to life, doing it all for a very worthy cause, supporting St Kilda Mums – a charity with which St Michael’s has strong ties to.

It takes a lot of work to turn an idea into a 3000+ person community event, so we spoke with Liv, an inspiring Old Michaelian, to hear more about how she brought her dream to life, a dream that was inspired by her late mother.

“My dear mum loved Christmas and sadly, she passed away on 22 December, 2014, missing Christmas by just a few days,” said Liv. “I had organised carol singers to come and sing by her bedside in her last days but she passed away on the morning of the evening they were due to come. About a week after her death I was walking through a local park and had a vision of holding carols in mum’s memory for the local community.”

As Liv explains, if she was to bring her idea to life, this would be the first community carols event for the City of Port Phillip.

“The City of Port Phillip hasn’t previously had their own Christmas carols and I was keen to set one up,” said Liv. “I looked into setting up a public event, it seemed like A LOT of work so I mentioned my idea to my friend Jo Bertrand – who just happens to be an event manager – and in her awesome, ‘can do’ way she said to me, ‘let’s do it, I can make that happen’. And so it started.”

We recruited a team of talented and professional women, chose our charity to partner with (St Kilda Mums) and started work, which included a crowd funding campaign within the local community.Olivia Downing (OM 1993)

Liv is a psychologist and mindfulness educator, and it’s the combination of these skills and her drive for giving back to her community that makes her so inspiring. As Liv mentions, the spirit of giving and fostering connection becomes even more important at Christmas.

“Research tells us that global levels of loneliness are rising and global levels of compassion and kindness are decreasing, the combination of these factors does not bode well for our community,” said Liv. “Our vision is to create a space and time in Lakeside Carols where our whole community can connect in an authentic and heart-felt way to celebrate this wonderful time of year. We are under no illusion that this event will solve global problems when it comes to lack of connection and poor mental health in the world but we do believe that every little bit helps and so we decided to start in our own back yard.”

Reflecting on her own time at St Michael’s, Liv is delighted to be connected again with the St Michael’s community through this event.

“I am so thrilled that St Michael’s has come on once again as a sponsor for our event and this year we even get to enjoy the beautiful voices of some of the School’s choirs,” said Liv. “I adored my school years, I felt that St Michael’s was a school that helped me to find whatever it was that I was good at and then nurture it. For the record, I was not great at singing but I was still an extra in many of the School musicals!”

Carols in the community: the story of Lakeside Carols Hear our Boys Acapella Choir at Lakeside Carols tonight

Event details

The event is tonight, 5 December at at 5.00pm (concluding at 9.30pm), in Gasworks Arts Park, 21 Graham St in Albert Park.

We encourage all members of our community to attend and support what will be a wonderful event full of festive community spirit, highlighted by the voices of St Michael’s students and a range of fantastic performers.