ITV news presenter and TV celebrity Natasha Kaplinsky is swapping her on-screen role for an altogether different performance in support of a UK-founded global health charity.
Merlin – which provides medical care to people caught up in conflict and natural disasters – is delighted that Natasha is one of the ‘readers’ for Merlin’s carol service on November 28.
The service will be held at Saint Bartholomew the Great, one of London's oldest churches whose history dates back to the twelfth century.
Natasha, who has travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo and Kenya to see Merlin’s health workers in action, said: “I have had the privilege of meeting Merlin’s doctors, nurses and midwives who work in conditions unimaginable to most of us. What they do is simply amazing. This service is a wonderful opportunity to give thanks for their unstinting efforts.”
One of Merlin’s founders, Dr Chris Besse, will also be addressing the congregation. He said: “Christmas is traditionally a time of goodwill to all and so this is the perfect opportunity to focus on the work of Merlin which is built on a desire to make life better for vulnerable people, whoever and wherever they may be. Merlin goes further than goodwill of course. The work of its staff can and does make the difference between life and death.”
Ed Stourton, whose voice will be instantly recognisable to Radio Four listeners, is another reader at the service, as is actress Sharon Small.
Merlin’s chief executive Carolyn Miller added: “I am delighted that our supporters, staff and patrons are coming together this Christmas. The service will allow us to celebrate our successes and the positive impact Merlin has had. This will spur us on further to be a force for health.”
The service will be followed by a mince pie and wine reception in The Cloister Café at the former Augustinian priory.