Alnwick Christmas lights switched on following funding lifeline

Vital funding which secures the future of Alnwick’s Christmas lights display has been handed over.

Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 26th November 2019, 2:03 pm

In June, Alnwick Christmas Lights committee announced a sponsorship agreement with businessman Meenu Malhotra, chairman of the Malhotra Group.

The company, which has healthcare interests in the town, is putting up an initial £7,000 with further annual payments of £5,000 until 2023 at least.

Mr Malhotra, who handed over the initial cheque prior to Friday night’s switch on, said: “The Malhotra Group is delighted to be sponsoring the Christmas lights in Alnwick.

The Duchess of Northumberland with lights sponsor Meenu Malhotra presenting a cheque to lights committee chairman Gordon Castle watched by members of the civic party. Picture by Jane Coltman

“Since we purchased the Hillcrest care home earlier this year – and as our new, purpose-built facility at Lisburn Terrace nears completion – we have been made to feel incredibly welcome by businesses and residents alike.

“We very much hope to enjoy a long association with this lovely town and sponsoring the lights was our way of saying thank you for the generous welcome we have received.”

The funding, made possible with help from the Duchess of Northumberland, has been warmly welcomed by the volunteer group which has previously faced a financial struggle.

Coun Gordon Castle, lights committee chairman, said: “I must say how wonderful it was to see so many people in Alnwick Marketplace enjoying the start of the Christmas season.

“I cannot name our many supporters, but recognising how short of money we were, a generous grant increase was authorised by Alnwick Town Council and our regulars came up with more, including Specsavers and Alnwick Round Table.

“The Chamber of Trade has also taken a more active role, and Melvyn’s Cafe provided their traditional two hours of refreshments for guests without charge.

“But Meenu Malhotra has given us a lifeline. We are most grateful for his generosity and he was clearly impressed by the strength of our community and sense of occasion which he saw on Friday evening.

“As ever the Playhouse Concert Band were excellent and Peter Brown led a fine group of carol singers. The Lions brought in their much loved sleigh bearing Santa and the weather was unexpectedly kind.

“As unpaid volunteers, the committee are well satisfied that we have brought a cheerful start to the season and brightened up the winter landscape of our town.”