Ledbury Christmas lights switch-on 2013

Ledbury Reporter: MAGICAL: The Market House twinkles with Christmas lights. Picture by Barry Tweed-Rycroft MAGICAL: The Market House twinkles with Christmas lights. Picture by Barry Tweed-Rycroft

SANTA left his sleigh behind for a seasonal appointment with Ledbury people and arrived by special train instead.

Trigger the land train was the big success on Saturday for the switching on of Ledbury’s Christmas lights.

On a dark but dry afternoon, the train brought festive fun to the streets, as young and old alike queued for rides by the war memorial.

The journey took passengers up the Homend, down Orchard Lane, along Long Acres, into Bye Street and back into the town centre past the library.

Donations for rides were requested and the money raised, still to be tallied up, will go towards the costs of next year's lights, as will proceeds from a bumper Christmas draw.

Coun Phillip Bettington, chairman of the town’s Christmas lights committee, is determined that there will be a lights display next year, even with the town council being faced with difficult financial decisions in 2014.

He said: “We will still be under contract for the lights next year, and judging by the feeling of the people, they will want to see the lights next year.

“I think the event was a great success.”

Many people also want to see the return of Trigger, and Coun Bettington will look into this, although the popular land train is often booked up well in advance of any public appearance.

Sights and entertainments on the night included Santa’s grotto in the town council offices and carols under the Market House, thanks to the excellent lead and musicianship of the Ledbury Community Choir and Brass Band.

The band played under the appreciative and exuberant directions of professional composer John Frith. There was no public address system with which to announce the switch-on of the lights this year at 4.30pm.

Instead, a large crowd of people, at least 300 strong, gathered by the town’s most familiar landmark building to count down the seconds as the mayor, Councillor Terry Widdows, and this year’s Carnival Princess, 10-year-old Libby Ryan, prepared to push the plunger and light up the town centre.

The lights on the tree came on, right on cue, as did the pretty strings of white lights on the Market House itself, the Alms Houses and above the Homend, as the December dusk gathered and a rousing cheer filled the air.

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