Garstang’s Christmas lights shine

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They’re on! Garstang’s Christmas lights were officially switched on on Monday evening.

A bumper crowd attended the event to signal the countdown to the Yuletide celebrations has well and truly begun.

Proceedings were introduced by Garstang’s Town Crier Hilary McGrath with the young people of the town ensuring that the ceremony would be a memorable musical event too.

A large crowd joined in a rousing rendition of carols led by the band and choir from Garstang Community Academy, conducted by Head of Creative Arts Mr Lloyd Garratt.

Local primary school children also attended to add their voice to the celebration.

Young Academy soloist Liam Hurley sang The Snowman before the countdown began.

The switch-on itself was a community affair - with the lights being triggered by a team comprising Young Mayor Oliver Atkinson, Garstang Academy pupil Alicia Clegg, Katie Heath from St Mary and St Michael’s school, Olivia Clarke and Christian Turnbull from St Thomas’s school and Rachael Williams from Garstang Community Primary, Garstang Mayor and Mayoress Coun Graham and Mrs Kathy Salisbury, Coun Lady Dulcie Atkins representing the Garstang Town Trust, Norah Hoyles MBE representing the Chamber of Trade and the Deputy Mayor of Wyre Coun Terry Rogers.

A blessing by Father Stephen Grey from St Thomas’ Garstang followed, with part of the crib being brought to the town’s Market Cross for a reminder of what the Christmas message is about.

As well as light and balloon sellers adding to the party spirit, local family Lynne Shimmel from High Street shop “Iced” and her children Ella Ashton, nine and Penny Shimmel,two, put on their own lights show with special illuminated fancy dress costumes. Mother Christmas Lesley Bickerstaffe and her team of elves provided sweets for children attending the switch-on.

Damian Carr from Garstang’s Chamber of Trade said afterwards: “It was wonderful. The weather has been superb for it. It’s a very uplifting community event. It was lovely and thank you to everybody who takes part.”.

He paid tribute to the Academy musicians and singers saying that by performing before the switch-on they had helped ensure those attending really got into the spirit of the event.

Much fund raising goes on to help turn the town into a Christmas wonderland and Damian added: “We’re always looking for donations. The lights alone cost £12,000.”

Generous grants from the Town Council, Wyre Council and the Town Trust, business and personal donations go towards the cost, but he added: “We are just hoping people will give generously because it make all the difference. In the darkest month of the year it livens up the town.”

The Chamber will be welcoming donations at the town’s Victorian Christmas Festival on the evenings of December 8 and 9.

Meanwhile Independent Garstang Traders have announced late night shopping in the town on Thursday December 4, 11 and 18 with shops and cafes open until 8pm.