This research was funded by AHRC Northern Bridge. To find out more about the programme and partners, please see: http://www.northernbridge.ac.uk.
I am incredibly grateful for ongoing support from my supervisors Professor Douglas Davies and Professor Gerard Loughlin, my many friends in Durham’s Department of Theology and Religion, as well as to the MCR and wider community of St. Chad’s College, and the wonderful congregation of St. Cuthbert’s Church, Durham, who have helped sustain me through so much of the latter part of my writing up process.
A massive thanks must also go to all my participants for being willing to engage with the project and share their personal stories, as well as to my research partners for their support and inspiration: to Crook Hall and Gardens, Durham Cathedral, staff, pupils, and parents at Neville’s Cross Primary School, North Tyneside Council and their ‘Care and Connect’ team, members of staff and volunteers at VODA, and all those who contributed to the ‘Make Christmas Special’ programme during the time of my fieldwork. I also want to thank founder of Community Christmas, Caroline Billington, and creator of Elf for Christmas, Sarah Greenwell for their support and involvement.
I should also thank all those students of mine who got involved with pilot questionnaires, took a particularly keen interest in my research, and provided me with such a great sounding board in the midst of our ‘Worldview, Faith, and Identity’ Seminars.
Perhaps the loudest Christmassy shout out, however, must go to my family, who sacrificed more than at least one Christmas for the sake of this research, to all my wonderful Grandparents, sadly no longer with us, but whose financial support helped fund and uphold me through the last part of my writing-up process, and to all the various friends and colleagues who in different ways and at different stages encouraged, supported, inspired, and kept me going through the ups and downs of this project.