Lighting up the town - big Christmas lights switch-on

DESPITE poor weather Todmordians braved the downpour to support events centred around the Christmas lights big switch-on last Saturday afternoon.

Umbrellas were the order of the day but businesses and community groups got together to lay on entertainment to beat the gloom and also raised funds for the Mayor of Todmorden, Coun Cheryl Stovin's, charity too.

Councillor Stovin switched on the lights with the help of some of the children who had provided winning designs for new lights this year.

Each year Todmorden Town Council runs the competition for schoolchildren to design five unique new lights for the town's Christmas festivities .

The winning entries were by Lucy Williams, James Fielden, Sophie Leeming, Maddie Pickering and Rachel Lake.

Earlier in the day a Dickensian fair was held at St Mary's Church and lantern-making was taking place at Todmorden Together's town centre headquarters.

The town's shopping areas including Patmos, Water Street – which was closed off while a snow machine was in operation, providing extra fun – and Todmorden Market were all involved in promoting the day, encouraging people to shop locally, including staging things like Punch and Judy to entertain the youngsters.

At designers Makepiece in Water Street, co-owner Beate Kubitz brought some of the sheep whose wool is used in their creations for children to pet and feed.

The town's gospel choir performed at the church before a lantern parade led by Canon Owen Page made its way along Rochdale Road and Water Street back to the Peace Garden for the big switch-on.

This year's parade was also joined by the town's Muslim community, chairman of the Hamza Mosque, Mr Nadeem Mir, joining Canon Page.

Umbrellas were the order of the day on what was a very wet afternoon, but the town was lit up for Christmas when the lights added a blaze of colour.

Councillor Stovin's charity is Age Concern Todmorden and Coun Ruth Goldthorpe, of ACT, spoke about its work, which includes lunch clubs, activities and outings.

Full details can be obtained from the ACT offices on Burnley Road.

A collection for Age Concern raised 80, a coffee morning in the Town Hall raised 100 and Central Hair Design, on Water Street, boosted the total by a bumper 150 raised on the day by a tombola.

Louise Castro, of Todmorden Together also thanked the group's team of volunteers on the day, who helped set up the Water Street entertainment among other things. "They were fantastic," she said.

The event kicked off a series of pre-Christmas promotions for the town, which continue with Kidsfest at Todmorden Town Hall this Saturday.

There is also a Dickensian evening on Wednesday, December 9, from 6pm to 9pm, with a chance to do some Christmas shopping and be entertained at the same time.

This will include all the town's shopping areas and is aimed at encouraging people to shop locally.