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Top UK percussionists record unusual Christmas carol for charity

Dame Evelyn Glennie and Shovell of M People, voted the UK’s top two live solo percussionists, have collaborated to record a Christmas track with a difference called Present Aid Unplugged to promote virtual charity gift catalogue www.presentaid.org/unplugged

Present AidThe unplugged version of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, to be released on 19 November, has been recorded using gifts from the Present Aid catalogue. These include an array of unusual instruments such as squeaky shoes, sewing machine, bike spokes, chalk boards, seed packets, saws, and running water.

A choir of animals including pigs, ducks, chickens, bees, and mosquitoes were conducted by composer, sound designer and fan of funny noises, Pendle Poucher.

The humorous Christmas Carol aims to highlight serious issues faced by thousands of people in developing countries such as climate change and HIV and AIDS and encourage people to buy a gift with a difference this festive season.

Ruth Ruderham, Christian Aid's head of fundraising, said: 'It was hard to brief the choir of pigs and chickens, and the bees kept buzzing around. Nevertheless, we feel positive that the musical input from Evelyn Glennie and Shovell will make this a very special Christmas record. In turn, we hope the record will convince people of the urgent need to buy quirky gifts that make a lasting difference.'

A new feature allows buyers to personalise the gift cards for family and friends and choose from seven new card designs. Customers spending more than £40 will receive a free Present Aid calendar.

The website www.presentaid.org contains 40 gift ideas, ranging in price from £5 to £1,400.  The stocking filler section contains 17 gifts under £20.

Present Aid customers will receive a card with more information about the gift they bought which can be sent to the recipient. The gift donation will go into one of five project funds to help people in some of the world’s poorest countries.

The deadline for Christmas gift purchases is 15 December. Call 0845 3300 500 to order a catalogue or log on to www.presentaid.org

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For images, video and interviews with Christian Aid representatives contact Kati Byrne on 020 7523 2419 kbyrne@christian-aid.org  or Karen Hedges on 020 7523 2404  khedges@christian-aid.org

Notes to editors:

1. You can listen to the Present Aid Unplugged carol at www.presentaid.org/unplugged from 19 November 2009.

2. Rhythm magazine readers voted Dame Evelyn Glennie and Shovell of M People the top two UK live solo percussionists in 2004.

3. The money from these gifts goes to one of the following project funds from where it gets distributed to Christian Aid partner organisations:

• agriculture and livestock
• emergency and disaster preparedness
• healthcare inc. HIV/Aids
• training and education
• water and environment

4. Christian Aid works in some of the world's poorest communities in 49 countries. We act where the need is greatest, regardless of religion, helping people build a better life.