I am writing on behalf of our superb team of 18 volunteers, all unpaid and often unrecognised, to thank those who enabled us to provide another successful Christmas lights display this year.
The financial support and enthusiasm of local businesses, institutions and individuals is the key to our continuing efforts on an enormous logistical task and we thank those who have made donations, large or small.
Our only regular source of public funds is a much-appreciated £2,000 annual grant from Alnwick Town Council and this year, we got a further £1,000 from the Community Chest to help us pay for low-energy bulbs.
The annual budget is over £12,000, of which about one third is earmarked for the rent of an industrial unit.
Like all volunteer groups we struggle to make ends meet, which is why we find it difficult to mount new displays.
This year, we spent about £1,700 on new lights for the Christmas tree that Northumberland Estates delivers to the town each year.
We are particularly grateful to those who helped us with the switch-on, which was very well attended in good weather.
These include Alnwick Lions, Alnwick Round Table, Local-Living (NE), Northumberland County Council, The Playhouse Concert Band (enhanced by local choristers), Karen Larkin, who organised the schools, and our own Town Crier, John Stevens, who arrived on time despite my forgetting to invite him, but graciously forgave me for the oversight.
I cannot list here all our supporters and sponsors, but I should mention with gratitude Turnbulls the butchers, who donated the entire proceeds of their recent Sausage Saturday, Tom McKie, of Copperfields/The Lunchbox, who keeps the team refreshed with coffee and bacon sandwiches throughout the year at well below cost, and Maureen Hornsby, of Melvyn’s Café, who every year mounts an excellent buffet for the switch-on reception at her own expense.
Not least, of course, we are grateful to the Duchess of Northumberland for making this a fixture in her calendar and to her delightful little helper this year, Sally Jobson.
We can still be supported by purchasing tickets for our raffle, which raises a substantial sum thanks to the many local businesses who provide prizes.
The draw takes place at our coffee morning in the Northumberland Hall on December 7, where all are welcome.
Chairman, Alnwick Christmas Lights Committee