fiji article telegraph 

The Sunday Telegraph winning article

Fijian worshippers sitting on wood worn by centuries of souls, harmonies super-glued, voices pure as faith… The tunes are familiar and there are encouraging nods as I try and follow words from Verity’s proudly-inscribed hymnal. Best dresses are on show, though shoes aren’t always being worn.

There’s a white-gloved pat of the pew and an invitation to share the village’s Christmas meal. Palm-tree torchieres guide us to the shore. A lovo in the sand – garlic chicken, fish, Palusami, cassava, swaddled in palm over a cradle of leaves. Photos of fan and spear-dancing, the flash capturing the widest of smiles against the delicious dark sky.

We reprise our common bond – Christmas carols – singing simultaneously in two languages around the flames of friendship. The night isn’t silent, there’s no holly or ivy, but there is joy to the  world this Christmas in Fiji.