The International Peace Light has been brought to the Isle of Man in time for Christmas, with support from the Steam Packet Company.
Every year since 1986, a child from Austria has travelled to Bethlehem and kindled a light from the Eternal Flame inside the Church of the Nativity. The Light is then flown to Austria where it is distributed to delegations from around the world at a Service of Dedication and Distribution.
Thanks to co-operation between the Scouts and Guides in many countries, the Light has travelled throughout Europe, America, Canada and Australasia. When the Light reaches each country, Scouts and Guides take it into the community, distributing it further to churches, old people's homes, residential homes, hospitals, prisons and other places of public, political or cultural importance.
This year, for the first time, the Light was brought to the Isle of Man.
The Steam Packet Company assisted with the travel of a group of 11, including five members of the Island's Scouts and Guides representing each of the older sections (Scouts, Sea Scouts, Explorers, Guides and Senior Section), to attend a Service of Distribution in St Helens and kindle their own light for the Island.
The Steam Packet Company made special arrangements for the lit flame to be transported back to Douglas, ensuring it arrived safely in the Island ahead of a local Service of Distribution at St Matthew’s Church on December 20th.
More local Scouts and Guides were able to light their own flames and distribute them to the Island community.
Father Robert Boyle, of St Matthew’s Church, said: ‘I have been working with the Scout and Guide associations on the Isle of Man to bring the Bethlehem Peace Light to the Island this Christmas. After much planning over many months, and with discussion with the Steam Packet Company, we are able to make it happen.
‘The Light, which begins its journey at the birthplace of Jesus, represents a message of peace which can be shared around the world. We wanted to share the Peace Light with the whole lsland and as many places as possible, and I’m delighted members of the local Scout and Guide groups were able to travel to St Helens to collect the light.
‘I’d like to thank the Steam Packet Company for helping us meet the cost of travel and for making it possible for the lit flame to be transported.’
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward said: ‘For almost 30 years the International Peace Light has been carried around the world as a message peace during the festive season.
‘When Father Boyle contacted us, we were delighted to have the chance to help our local Scout and Guide associations become involved and bring the Light to the Island for the first time.
‘Carrying a lit flame presented some logistical issues for us, but I’m pleased we were able to ensure the flame’s journey continued into the Island community.’
The Isle of Man group with the International Peace Light in St Helens