Shedding light on situation

I AM a member of the Huntingdon Christmas Lights Appeal Committee and I am not a member of the town council or employed by it. I am a private businessman whose only connections with Huntingdon are that I live here and contribute to my community. Here are

I AM a member of the Huntingdon Christmas Lights Appeal Committee and I am not a member of the town council or employed by it. I am a private businessman whose only connections with Huntingdon are that I live here and contribute to my community.

Here are some facts about how the Huntingdon Christmas lights (Letters, September 19) are organised and paid for. They are not paid for or run by the town council.

They are paid for by donations and fundraising activities of the appeal committee ­- unlike St Neots, whose council recently announced a more than £20,000-a-year fund for the next five years to pay for that town's Christmas lights.

The Christmas Lights Appeal Committee is supported by the Huntingdon Town Centre Manager and is independent of any local government agency.


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It is organised by a small dedicated group of local people who believe in celebrating a traditional British Christmas season, and the lights bring joy to many people and much-needed business to the town's shops.

For the majority of high street shops Christmas is the only time they make any profit, which enables them to continue to serve the townspeople during the rest of the year.

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Retail shops stay open only when they make a profit over the year. Profit requires shoppers, shoppers need reasons to come to a town and, let's face it, there is stiff competition from Peterborough, Bedford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge. I am sure people would be complaining if there were no shops in the High Street ­- and at one time Huntingdon's High Street was really dire.

This is not an "everyday living" event. It's an annual celebration of the birth of Christ, a time for friendship and community: a time of giving and shared joy.

Climate change and public liability have been used as excuses to dull down other towns and stop the celebration of Christmas, but not in Huntingdon.

The spirit of Christmas, whether religious or just celebrating the giving and receiving of presents, is alive and kicking. Long may it be so.

I, for one, celebrate Christmas as a Christian, a father with his children and a neighbour with my community. This is why I give my time freely to the Christmas Lights Appeal and strongly encourage others to support our community's celebration. Those who do not contribute or take part in the fundraising activities can still come and see the lights. That is our Christmas gift to you. After all, Christmas is the time for giving.

For those who want to contribute, join the Christmas Appeal 500 Club, come to the fundraising dinner on October 11 or just buy a raffle ticket for £1. Details are available from the town centre manager and various locations around the town.

Next time someone wants to write about the Christmas lights in Huntingdon, please feel free to contact those of the community who are involved and get the facts right before writing to the local press.

TERRY DOWNING, A member of Huntingdon Christmas Lights Appeal Committee

Ash Court, Brampton

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