The International Peace Light is to return to Manx shores this festive season with support from the Isle of Man Steam Packet Company.
It has arranged for the lit flame to be transported for a service at The Royal Chapel of St John’s on Friday 21st December (6.30pm), which will be attended by Lord Bishop Peter Eagles.
As in previous years, local Scouts and Guides will also light their own flames from the light and distribute them around the island to churches, care homes, Rebecca House and a host of community groups.
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 international delegations 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.
Guy Thompson, Island Commissioner for Scouts, explained: ‘To bring the Bethlehem Peace Light to the Isle of Man really does mean a huge amount to the local Scout and Guide associations and the communities who receive a flame from it.
‘We fundraise over a number of months towards the cost of the trip and we are so grateful for the support of the Steam Packet Company. This is the fifth year in a row the Company has agreed to help us and ensure the symbol of peace can be shared around the island as part of the Christmas celebrations.’
The Company will assist a group of 10 (six children and four adults) from the island's Scouts and Guides to travel to a Service of Distribution in St Helens and kindle their own light for the Isle of Man before transporting the lit flame back to Douglas.
Isle of Man Steam Packet Company Chief Executive Mark Woodward added: ‘The International Peace Light is well received by many people in the island and, although transporting a lit flame can present a few logistical issues, we are pleased to help with the transportation.
‘It is a pleasure to once again assist the local Scout and Guide associations bring this longstanding symbol of a message of peace to the Isle of Man.’