JOHN Warburton will take part in York’s Annual Community Carol Concert at York Barbican for the 39th and final time at Sunday's diamond jubilee celebration.

Now walking with the aid of two sticks, Mr Warburton announced last month that his restricted mobility meant he did not feel sufficiently fit to conduct a carol. Instead he will take to the rostrum before the final carol to bid his farewell to the concert platform, but he will continue as committee chairman for the "foreseeable future".

"I suspect I'll have to say a word or two to the audience at the end, but it won't be a speech I'll be making; it will be an endorsement of Mike Pratt taking over as musical director," he said, when asked how he might feel at Sunday's event. "I'm quite relieved in the sense that I'm delighted I've found someone in Mike who is not only capable of carrying the carol concert forward but also carrying it forward in the way I'd wish."

York Press:

John Warburton and his successor as musical director, Mike Pratt, entering into the festive spirit at York's Annual Comuunity Carol Concert in 2015

Last year, Mr Warburton said his intention was to "go out with a bang" by making the 60th anniversary celebration a fitting finale. His involvement will be more limited than he first envisaged, but "though I won't be doing any conducting at all, I'll thank everyone for their support and urge them to do the same for Mike from now on.

"In particular, I thank the loyalty of all those who recognised that the Barbican is really the only venue we can have for the size of support this concert attracts. It's certainly not a church service! It's a community concert for those in York who want to sing carols to have the opportunity to do just that."

York Press:

John Warburton conducting the 25th anniversary Community Carol Concert at the SS Empire (now the Grand Opera House) in 1982

Taking part in Sunday's 2.30pm concert will be the York Railway Institute Band; York Civic Youth Choir; York Musical Theatre Company; Cansing!, the City of York Council staff choir; Joanne and Angelina Warburton and the Steve Cassidy Band. The master of ceremonies will be the Reverend Andrew Foster.

Fewer than 140 tickets remain on sale at £7.50 for adults, £6, concessions, £24, family of four, on 0844 854 2757, at or in person from the Barbican box office. Proceeds will go to the Lord Mayor and Sheriff of York’s Christmas Cheer Fund and York Mind, The Press Community Appeal's chosen charity for 2017.