AN ANNUAL carol service for families who are missing members will be held in a new venue this year.

The service on Thursday, December 18 will be held for the first time at St Michael le Belfry, following two years at St Chad's Church in Knavesmire, and has been organised by the national charity Missing People.

Peter Lawrence, father of missing York chef Claudia Lawrence, helped set up the first services, and will attend this year to share memories of Claudia, who has been missing for more than five years. At the weekend, he and Martin Crosby, from the charity, handed out fliers to shoppers in Coney Street to help raise awareness of the concert.

He said: "This is a more central venue, slightly larger, and we hope to get a lot of people here to support the charity and the families. There will be several families there in the same position.

"I have organised it myself for the last two years at St Chad's and the charity have done it this year, in line with the national format. It's giving people the opportunity from different parts of the country to get together and remember."

Martin Crosby said: "It's such a difficult situation to go through when someone goes missing, and at Christmas time in particular, so we want to help with that and share a message of hope."

Reverend Matthew Porter, of St Michael le Belfry, said: "I personally have friends who will be coming to the service who have a son who left home a number of years ago and didn't return, so I understand what it's like to go through some of this struggle."