Occupy at Christmas: 'One of my kids thinks I'm nuts. Another thinks I'm a hero'

The View From St Pauls

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The Independent Online

Christmas began in a tent outside St Paul's Cathedral and turned into a day spent thinking of friends and family members they had left at home for those at the Occupy London camp.

"I am missing my grandchild enormously today but I believe it is his future which depends on my being here," said Ben Cavanna, a 57-year-old photographer from Gloucestershire who decided to stay at the camp over Christmas.

"I have four children. One thinks I am nuts, two of them don't really understand why I am here and one thinks I am a hero."

Another demonstrator, Chrissy Bethke, 32, a media analyst from Germany, said the decision to stay was easy. "It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be at St Paul's Cathedral for Christmas. So many people come here and it is a festive atmosphere.

"I talked to my family and they understood. We agreed we would meet up in January. Quite a few people had to go home for Christmas, so it is important we have some people here."

The camp's population was predictably depleted yesterday but those protesters who did stay behind were spared cold weather. They made a sign welcoming worshippers arriving for the Sung Eucharist inside the cathedral.

One member of the congregation, Matt Thornley, 32, from London, said: "They are here doing what they need to do and they should be allowed to be here."

Another, Stephen Nash, 39, a public-sector worker also from London, said he appreciated what he saw as the protesters' efforts on his behalf: "I am glad they are doing it but I would not spend Christmas in a tent. It makes me respect the people who are doing it."