No generation did more to define our modern interpretation of Christmas than the Victorians.
And the key architect was the best-selling author of his age Charles Dickens.
His Christmas stories, with Dickens’ fervour for social morality flowing though every sentence, made a huge impact on society in 19th century Britain - and none more so than A Christmas Carol.
The Carol, a parable of how a man can turn from selfish materialism to community patronage and care, stirred the collective conscience of a nation 150 years ago.
It retains that same potency, even today, and especially at Christmas.
So it was fitting that extracts of this classic were read as part of the closing programme of A Dickensian Christmas.
Its inclusion had a greater relevance too - for the event at Mannings Heath Golf Club on Friday (November 29) was in aid of The Chairman’s Trust, a new charity which aims to help those most in need in the Horsham District.
The dinner was organised and hosted by the Chairman of the district council Philip Circus and his wife Gaenor - and combined an excellent meal with readings from the classic writer’s best-loved works.
The narrator - who played the role of the author and opened with an ‘autobiographical’ sketch of his life - was described simply as ‘our illustrious guest’ and a ‘great-great grandson of Charles Dickens’.
The vice-chairman of HDC Christian Mitchell gave the loyal toast while the Vicar of Horsham the Rev Canon Guy Bridgewater said grace.
There was a distinguished civic guest list too from across the South of England, most notably the High Sheriff of West Sussex and his wife, Mr and Mrs Patrick and Maggie Burgess.
Readers of this newspaper had also purchased tickets as well as members of Storrington Flower Club who supported in good number.
For such a special evening in the life of the District a few more councillors from our own authority would no doubt have been welcome, but Diana Van Der Klugt and Mr Mitchell were among those who represented with distinction.
Finally, special mention to Louise Mosey for the excellent table arrangements that were raffled at the end of the evening, and the sponsors of prizes and auction items including Horsham Aga Cookshop; Bills Restaurant Horsham - splendidly represented by Pedro Flores Martins and his family; Mr and Mrs B Kendall; Rt Hon Francis Maude MP; Cllr and Mrs G Norman; and Mr I Chaplin - who donated six bottles of Meonhill sparkling wine which raised some £250 in a closing auction conducted by myself.