Christmas never ends for lights volunteers

Trevor Colbourne, George Edminson, Peter Savage and Jimmy Thompson working on Amble's Christmas Lights.
Trevor Colbourne, George Edminson, Peter Savage and Jimmy Thompson working on Amble's Christmas Lights.

The sun is still shining and the last days of summer are yet to come – but for members of the Amble Lights Committee, the festive season is already well under way.

And in fact, for some it never ended at all. At a workshop in the Fourways centre in the town, a small group of volunteers tinker with Amble’s lights display all year round.

Trevor Colbourne,

Trevor Colbourne,

Florence Angus, who runs JK Crafts on the town’s Queen Street, has been the committee’s secretary since it began 23 years ago.

“A lot of people think they go up and they come down, and that’s it!” she said.

“It is a lot of work, and it is an all-year-round job really.”

Many of the illuminated boards have been in use for more than two decades. One set, featuring Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, was created by inmates at Acklington Prison, and has been hung above shopfronts on Queen Street every year since.

“They are getting in a bad way, but we didn’t want to get rid of them – there’s history there,” said Florence.

“That’s what Christmas is about, tradition.”

The boards are gradually being renovated and restored to their first glory. But it is a slow process, and the group has to find around £3,000 every year to pay for repairs, new displays and electricity.

While people in Amble are extremely generous with donations, group chairman Trevor Colbourne says that finding the money to keep going can be very difficult.

“Everything in the world now is quite expensive, and you need funding to continue,” he said.

“In the last three months, we’ve run out of cash, effectively. All we’re doing is maintenance and just keeping things ticking over.”

While only around eight people work on the lights all year round, many more get involved with putting them up and taking them down.

But there is plenty of scope for more volunteers to get involved. Florence herself says she is ready to retire, and would be glad to pass on her role if the right person came forward.

A parade and Victorian street market are planned on Queen Street to celebrate the big switch-on in November, along with a Santa’s Grotto and other family attractions.

To get involved with the Amble Lights Committee, or to make a contribution towards this year’s display, contact Florence on 01665 711274.