Friday 13th proves lucky for Malmesbury's Christmas celebrations

The Wiltshire Gazette and Herald: Actor Jason Deer with the Althelstan Players, who are raising funds for their building in Malmesbury Actor Jason Deer with the Althelstan Players, who are raising funds for their building in Malmesbury

Aromas of mulled wine, roast hot chestnuts and fresh holly wreaths filled Malmesbury High Street as the town transformed in to a shopper’s paradise for its late-night Christmas shopping event.

Despite being organised for Friday, December 13, luck was on the side of organisers, The Chamber of Commerce, as rain clouds parted to allow families to descend and sample all that the market town and its neighbouring villages has to offer.

Father Christmas greeted youngsters from his grotto in Market Cross, while the Athelstan Players sang for their supper belting out carols to raise awareness of their £70,000 fundraising campaign to fund a new flood-proof building.

To support them, Heartbeat’s Jason Durr helped run the stall and mingled with Malmesbury folk throughout the evening.

“It’s a great atmosphere tonight,” said the actor best known for his role as PC Mike Bradley in the Yorkshire police drama.

“Events like this are really good and always brings out lots of people”

The actor was supporting the Athelstan Players’ and their campaign as his brother-in-law Bob Charman performs for them.

“My wife was born and went to school in Malmesbury and we live just outside of Malmesbury, so I was only too happy to help them,” he added.

“It’s a beautiful part of the world; I love it.”

Among the festivities on Friday night was a fire engine courtesy of Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service, which entertained young and old alike in Oxford Street.

The mayor John Gundry dressed in full regalia for the evening, as did the town’s faithful crier David Shelley.

Among the stall holders were HEALS charity and photographer Robert Peel’s nationally acclaimed images in print and in calendar form.

Mum Sarah Lewis of Burnham Road visited with her children Gracie and Bobby.

“It’s lovely; we come every year,” she said.

“For me it’s about the atmosphere; it’s like a night out, but you can bring the children.”

While many small businesses sold their wares on the stalls, the retail shops, cafes and restaurants stayed open late with Amanda’s Cafe and Hyams Autos among those to set up colourful Christmas lights displays.

The Cherry Tree won the Chamber of Commerce best window display competition.

Owner Jane Nurden spent three days preparing her shop for the festive season.

“I think this is the third or fourth time I have won now, which is super,” she said.

“I was really chuffed to win this year.

“It’s just good fun.”

Her display is made up of red cherry lights, a large wreath, white ‘snow’ and a wintery Christmas tree with presents stacked up beneath.

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