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What message did you send?

The Christmas cards that people choose to send out may say a lot about them. Make up your mind from Lisa Smyth's guide to cards sent out by some high-profile individuals

Shaun Woodward

Northern Ireland's Secretary of State has opted for a card showing a photograph of the grounds of Hillsborough Castle.

The scene of many of the province's most significant political events in recent years, the picture shows Lady Alice's Temple, built in 1880, and surrounding trees all covered in a dusting of snow.

Hillsborough Castle was built around 1797 and between 1925 to 1973 was the residence of the Governor of Northern Ireland.

It then functioned as a stately home-away-from-home for visiting VIPs and is now the official residence of the British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.

Signed by Mr Woodward, the card sends the recipient good wishes for Christmas and the New Year on behalf of the Minister and his wife, Camilla.

Michelle Gildernew

A snow covered Cushendun Harbour is the scene of choice for Christmas cards sent by Minister for Agriculture and Rural Development Michelle Gildernew this year.

All profits from the sale of the Christmas card sent by the Sinn Fein MP for Fermanagh and South Tyrone go directly to Northern Ireland Hospice Care, which provides specialist palliative care for adults, children and young people with life threatening and life limiting conditions and offers support to their families whether care is provided in hospice or at home.

Inside the official DARD card, the Minister wishes a "Happy Christmas Nollaig Shona Hae A Blythe Yuletide" on behalf of her and her family.

Mark Durkan

SDLP leader Mark Durkan has sent a traditional Christmas card which shows Mary and Joseph making their journey to Bethlehem.

Some of the world's poorest people will benefit from the sale of the card as proceeds support Christian Aid, Cafod, Sciaf and Traidcraft, a group of charities which work together to help the poor in developing countries.

Mr Durkan is also doing his bit to help the environment by his choice of card as it has been made from recycled materials.

Inside, a printed bi-lingual message reads "Wishing You Peace and Joy at Christmas" or "Go raibh siochain agus gliondar na Nollag libh" .

The card is signed by Mr Durkan, his wife, Jackie and daughter, Dearbhail.

Jeffrey Donaldson

DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson continues the charitable theme with his choice of Christmas card which is produced by Pink Elephant Cards handmade at Stepping Stones.

The charitable company provides training towards employment for people with learning difficulties.

The exquisitely detailed card, complete with beading, can be shaken to produce a snow storm around a barren winter landscape.

Inside, the card bears the official House of Commons emblem and wishes the recipient a happy Christmas and peaceful New Year in 2008.

The card is signed by Mr Donaldson and his family, Eleanor, Claire and Laura Donaldson.

David Cameron

The Conservative leader chose a drawing by 11-year-old Bethany Brown, which shows a giant Father Christmas booming out "Ho! Ho! Ho!".

He is pictured looking down at Bethany's school, St John's Church, and the town hall in her home town of Carterton in Mr Cameron's Witney constituency.

It also shows a military plane from a nearby RAF Brize Norton spelling out " Merry Christmas" in a vapour trail.

Gordon Brown

His predecessor went in for family photographs but Gordon Brown has reputedly sworn that he will never feature images of his two young sons on his Christmas cards.

Instead, he is sending out this drawing of lively children encircling a Christmas tree.

It was designed by the children's author and artist, Shirley Hughes, and promotes the work of Booktrust, a charity that encourages children to read.

President George Bush

Mr Bush and his wife Laura's card contains a reading from the Old Testament: "You alone are the Lord.

"You made the heavens, even the highest heavens, and all their starry host, the earth and all that is on it, the seas and all that is in them.

"You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship you."

Belfast Telegraph


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