Christmas arrives in Bamburgh as the lights are switched on

The switch was flicked on the Christmas lights during a downpour in Bamburgh on Saturday to spread some festive cheer throughout the village.

In keeping with tradition, a resident of the village who has made an important contribution, was chosen to perform the important task at the annual lights celebration. This year, it was Alex Nixon, chairman of the Bamburgh Lights Committee, who has given a lot of his time to the event since it started 14 years ago, ably supported by nine-year-old Conor Dobson.

The impressive Christmas tree at Bamburgh, with its famous white lights.

The impressive Christmas tree at Bamburgh, with its famous white lights.

The evening began at a packed St Aidan's Church, where the Arch Deacon of Lindisfarne, The Ven Rev Peter Robinson conducted a service and blessing of the nativity scene.

Then outside, beside an impressive Christmas tree, the switch-on ceremony took place, just as the heavens opened.

Committee member Chris Hull started the ball rolling and told a large crowd: "It's wonderful to see so many people first of all in the church and also out here in the rain. Thank you very much everybody for coming. This is an institution - we've been doing it for a lot of years and we'll go on doing it for a long time yet.

"But, it doesn't happen by chance. It happens because some people work very, very hard every year to make it happen, led by Alex Nixon, who turn out in all weathers to make the lights happen. They don't just magic their way into the trees, it has to be done by sheer hard work.

Conor Dobson, Alex Nixon and Chris Hull at the Bamburgh Christmas lights switch-on.

Conor Dobson, Alex Nixon and Chris Hull at the Bamburgh Christmas lights switch-on.

"We don't do celebrity here - we always chose somebody in the village who has made a contribution rather than some fancy figure from outside and this year is very much in that tradition and we are going to ask Alex Nixon, who is chairman of the lights committee to turn on the lights. He has led this group fantastically over the years right from the start to today.

"The lights cost a great deal of money and that money comes from one place, and one place only, and that's public subscription by people who either give us money by donation or put their hands in their pockets at events like this. So if you have already given some money towards paying for the Christmas lights, please do it before the evening is out, because every year we depend on your support."

Before Conor flicked the switch, Mr Nixon said: "I would just like everybody to remember the lady who switched them on last year who was unwell and unfortunately isn't with us any more.

"I would also, especially with the 100th anniversary of the end of the First World War, like you to remember the people of Bamburgh, who, in world wars one and two, made the ultimate sacrifice and, while we switch these lights on, they are the bright lights of this village."

He also paid tribute to young villager Robert Thomas, who has run coffee mornings in his back garden and also helps in the Pavilion, to raise money for the lights.

He said: "Now when we're short of money and somebody comes up and says Alex, there's a cheque for £440, for a young lad, I think that's something special."

Alex then introduced Conor and said: "There's been quite a bit of pessimism in the village in as much as, at the moment, we've got no shop, we can't get a paper and the toilets are shut, but Conor, you and me are going to shed a lot of sunshine on the village tonight!"

After a countdown from 10 to one, the famous all-white lights came on throughout the village.

In a thank-you letter sent to the Gazette, Angela Darling, of the Bamburgh Christmas Lights Committee, wrote: 'I write on behalf of the Bamburgh Christmas Lights Committee to thank the many volunteers and the enthusiastic crowd who do so much to ensure a marvellous Bamburgh Christmas Lights switch on each year.

'This year, the tree is one of the finest on display and a big thank-you to Thompsons Garage Seahouses, who each year support us by organising transport for the trees.

'To the Bamburgh Castle Walled Garden for the use of their wall and electricity and the grass area for the nativity display. To Francis and William Watson Armstrong and the Castle Estates for the use of the Grove and the cherry picker and their support over the years.

'To the volunteers who each year ensure the Christmas Lights are as magnificent as they are, Graham Trotter, Allan Newton, Martin Spruce, Alex Nixon, John Turnbull and Peter Darling. They share their time and talents without any compensation and without them there would be no Christmas Lights.

'R Carter and Sons and The Pantry for sustaining the workers with sandwiches and coffee which I know keeps them motivated to keep going in all sorts of weather.

'A special mention to Robert Thomas, The Bamburgh Village Show Committee and Seahouses Rotary Club with their generous donations to support the Bamburgh Christmas lights this year. To Bamburgh Parish Council, Bamburgh village and the visitors who support the event that help to make it so special.'