Chamber president John Geoghegan presents a check to Obi Ojimadu, a member of the Ukrainian. Also in the photo are, front, from left, Anne McCaul, Danilo, Eva, Carolina and Aisling Coleman, Mullingar Chamber.

WATCH: Carol service for Ukrainian community brings a 'message of hope'

Over 200 members of the Ukrainian community attended an ecumenical carol service in All Saints Church last night.

Organised by Mullingar Chamber of Commerce in conjunction with the local churches, the large attendance were treated to a selection of carols beautifully sung by the choir from All Saints.

Speaking at the start of the event, Rev Canon Alastair Graham said that he hoped that the Ukrainian people now living in Mullingar felt the “love and support” of their new community. He also paid tribute to the president of Mullingar Chamber of Commerce John Geoghegan, the main organiser of the event , describing him as a person “full of goodness and talent”.

“He has inspired us all to organise and participate in this wonderful event.”

The newly appointed European Affairs Minister, Deputy Peter Burke, also spoke at the event. He said that he knows that “it is a very difficult time” [for the Ukrainian community] as Christmas approaches.

“We will do everything we can to make this a special Christmas for you in the Mullingar area,” he said.

Praising the different stage agencies and the general public for their efforts in helping the almost 70,000 refugees from Ukraine who are now living in Ireland, Minister Burke said that the message coming from events such as the carol service is "one of hope".

In the past people were forced to flee Ireland and this is one of the reasons why “we relish the opportunity to give a little back”, he said.

“To show what it means to be Irish, to show the support that we can give our Ukrainian friends who really need it this Christmas.”

Fr Phil Gaffney said that many local schools had welcomed children from Ukraine over the past 10 months and that it is "lovely to see them jelling and getting on so well with the boys and girls".

Fr Gaffney said that for many members of the local Ukrainian community this is "a very difficult time" as they cannot be with their loved ones.

"That's what Christmas is all about, family, community, coming together in prayer and song to rejoice and be happy. We will continue to pray for the people of Ukraine that this unjust and horrific war will come to an end," he said.

John Geoghegan said that the chamber and the local churches organised the carol service, which was sponsored by The Greville Arms, the SICAP Programme, Westmeath Community Development Limited and Wholesome Kitchen, to show the Ukrainian community “some hospitality and a welcome to our town”.

Mr Geoghegan also announced that the chamber was donating €3,000 to the local Ukrainian community from funds raised at the recent ball in the Mullingar Park Hotel.

Obi Ojimadu spoke on behalf of the Ukrainian community. He thanked the chamber and the local churches for organising the event and praised the wider community for the hospitality that they have shown his family and other refugees from Ukraine over the past year.

After the carol service there was a mince pie and mulled wine reception in The Greville Arms, where Santa Claus also made an appearance.