26th November 2023

Santa and his elves busy handing out presents in the Clock Tower grotto

The Town Council tonight put on a Christmas event for the residents, which included the illumination of the clock tower, Christmas lights on the high street, the lighting of the town Christmas Tree, carol-singing, mince pies and sausage rolls and, most important of all, Santa.

As you’ll see from the picture gallery below, several hundred people attended, the biggest Christmas Tree lighting crowd for  quite a while.

A lucky break gave us a weather window, with the predicted rain holding off until later in the evening. It was chilly, but there was little wind as United Reformed Church Vicar, the Reverend Anne Sardeson, started the carols at 5pm with ‘While Shepherds watched their Flocks by Night’, sung to the tune of ‘On Ilkla Mooar Baht ‘At’, to everyone’s surprise.

Local musician Terry Saunders kindly accompanied on keyboards as the service went into ‘It was on a Starry Night’.

Rev Anne Sardeson then delivered a Christmas message before the Town Mayor, Cllr Duncan Rawlinson,  stepped up to the microphone to welcome everyone to the Town Council’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

Cllr Rawlinson then counted down to the lighting of the Christmas Tree -which burst into life on the count of zero, to much cheering and applause. The tree and its lights were donated by The Limes Farm Shop.

Rev Anne Sardeson then led the crowd into ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ ahead of the appearance of Santa in his grotto beneath the Clock Tower, who distributed presents to the children of the town while Chief Officer Nichola Payne gave out mince pies, sausage rolls and biscuits, provided at cost by Ground Coffee on the High Street.

Thanks go to Marvin Oliver who sorted out the electrical wiring for the Clock Tower lights and who cleaned the porch beneath the clock tower in readiness for Santa. And to Nichola Payne, Kassie Taylor and Chris Edmonson for their hard work. And, of course, to the councillors who helped.

But most of all, we must thank Santa for turning up with 100 presents, 98 of which he gave out to happy children, and his two elves, one of which, if truth be told, bore a striking resemblance to the town’s Deputy Mayor, Fiona Clegg…


Photos by Cllr Nick Skeens

The High Street getting ready for the Tree Lighting
The High Street, with councillors and helpers getting ready for the Tree Lighting. 2
Residents gather shortly before 5pm
The carol singing begins
Carol singing
Carol singing. 2
The festive crowd
The festive crowd. 2
The festive crowd. 3
The festive crowd. 4
The festive crowd. 5
The festive crowd. 5
Terry Saunders on the ivories
The festive crowd. 6
The Rev Sardeson addressing the festive crowd
The Rev Sardeson addressing the festive crowd. 2
The festive crowd. 7
The Rev Sardeson addressing the festive crowd. 3
The festive crowd. 8
The festive crowd. 9
Sausage rolls and mince pies laid out in readiness
Waiting for the town’s Christmas Tree, left of picture, to be illuminated
The Town Mayor announcing the countdown to the lights
Hurrah! Thanks to The Limes Farm Shop
The crowd descends on Santa’s grotto
The crowd descends on Santa’s grotto. 2
The crowd descends on Santa’s grotto. 3
The crowd descends on Santa’s grotto. 4
The crowd descends on Santa’s grotto. 5
Santa and one of his elves
Santa and company
Santa and two of his elves
Who are you, taking my picture?
‘Oo. Is that for me? Merry Christmas.’