Chippenham tree fest

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Ivy Lane pupils Rodrigo and Amelia Ivy Lane pupils Rodrigo and Amelia

CHIPPENHAM Methodist Circuit showed money does grow on trees as its Festival of Christmas Trees raised more than £1,000 for charities.

The smell of pine needles and the sparkle of tinsel filled the Central Methodist Church hall at the weekend for its seventh festival.

Several groups in the town came together on Thursday to decorate 22 trees lining the walls of the Monkton Hill hall, ranging from 5ft to 7ft.

This year the visitors and businesses that sponsored the trees have been supporting Chippenham Street Pastors and Falcon Camps, which provides holidays for eight to 18-year-olds who face disadvantage in their day-to-day lives.

The street pastors decorated their own tree with items they give out to nightclubbers on Saturday nights, such as water bottles and flip flops, and topped it off with a box of jelly babies in place of a star.

Sheldon Road craft club used their knitted nativity characters, and other groups included Alabaré Include, the mental health day service for the people of Wiltshire, Alzheimer’s Society, Chippenham Twinning Association, Chippenham Rainbows, Doorway and about 100 children from Ivy Lane School.

Allie Burchell, Chippenham Methodist Circuit administrator, said: “They really enjoyed putting it together. It’s lovely to see how it grows through the day. You start off with nothing and then all of a sudden it lights up. And it smells lovely.”

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The festival kicked off on Friday night with a Youthful Christmas Extravaganza during which children and teenagers aged from four to 17 sang and played instruments.

Father Christmas was the special guest at Saturday’s craft activities, before families lit candles and left messages on a special tree in a poignant Remembrance Service.

After Christingle and Carols by Christmas tree light services on Sunday, the trees were taken down. “They have been given to people in need like our contacts with Christians Against Poverty, who may not otherwise have been able to afford a tree,” said Ms Burchell.

“It is a wonderful show of community spirit. So far over the years, the festival has raised over £7,000 for our chosen charities.”

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