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20th December 2017

Morpeth does really well for Christmas Trees, doesn’t it?

Every year for decades, the Chamber of Trade has provided the town Christmas Tree – supplied by Blagdon Estates – in front of the Clock Tower. Every year a handful of Chamber elves volunteers erect it early one morning in time for the NCC crew to include it when putting up the town Christmas lights on behalf of MTC. (Or at least that’s the theory). And I think this year’s tree is particularly fine and bushy! Don’t you agree?

Then for the past three years or so, we’ve had Rotary erecting the Tree of Light in the Sanderson Arcade. This is a really lovely idea – initiated by the wonderful Rhona Dunn. If you haven’t looked at it – people are able to sponsor lights on the tree, and write in the Celebration Book either in memory of departed loved ones who they particularly miss at Christmas (and for some, Christmas is so rich in memories, it can be a really difficult time) – or alternatively if people just want to commemorate a happy event in their lives: a wedding anniversary, an engagement, the birth of a child, a special birthday, a treasured friendship. . And of course, the money raised goes to charity – this year it’s being shared between Wansbeck Valley Food Bank, Alzheimers Society, and Cleasewell Hill Special School, Choppington. The Tree is up – and accepting messages right through to 31st December.

But this year – we’ve had what I’ve been told to describe as the first annual Morpeth Christmas Tree Festival. Held in St George’s URC Church over two days, with a ticket-only preview evening, this whole concept – created by a rather formidable duo – Barbara Ross and Gillian Irvine – has been a huge success. Some 24 businesses and organisations entered and decorated a Christmas tree – from Price’s Greengrocers to Goosehill Nursery to R Green Opticians, from Henry Dancer Days to Inside Morpeth magazine to the Great British Curtain Co. They were all excellent and very creative, and I’m just glad it wasn’t a competition and that as Mayor, I was not called upon to decide the “best” entry.

And I gather that the whole Festival has raised over £2000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Research & Relief Fund based at Benmar House in Morpeth.

I think we’ve seen the start of another new tradition in Morpeth.