Category Archives: Christmas

Merry Christmas!

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One Thing, Then Another Thing

One Thing, Then Another Thing

I’ve had very little time to blog recently and so all sorts of stuff has passed by without comment on this page.

The Christmas Light Switch On went perfectly, despite a few hiccups behind the scenes, the whole event was fab and the turnout broke records, again.  Each year we have to move everything up a notch and more and more people come along.  Yes, there was the usual handful of whiny political moaners, but they did nothing to dim the success of this amazing event.

Meanwhile our MP became Brexit Secretary sparking a great spectacle of emotion, opinion, joy and fury.  From the point of view of Hard Brexiteers like myself, its disappointing.  But I’ve known Steve Barclay a long time and I just don’t buy the idea that he’s “sold out.”  I hope and believe that he is playing a long time, smiling along with the Prime Minister while knowing full well this ridiculous deal will never get through Parliament.  If this is how things go then he’ll be an important man, negotiating our way through the inevitable No Deal situation.

Tomorrow, we have royal visitors.  Prince Charles and Camilla will be coming to Wisbech to visit St. Peters Church and meet representatives from many local voluntary organisations and heritage organisations.  Wisbech Castle has a stall, as do many others.  The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall are, of course, VIPs on a massive scale and preparations are well underway for the big day.  I won’t personally be meeting them, I ceded my place on the stall to allow an extra volunteer to go.  But I’ll be outside the Castle at the appropriate moment with other volunteers, hoping to catch a glimpse.  A great day for our Town.

I’ve got to get my November newsletter out this week (running out of days in November) and we are still wall to wall meetings and planning for Christmas events so there’s really no spare time before Christmas at all.  Never mind, who needs sleep? :)

Christmas Festivities

Christmas Festivities
I was lucky enough to be invited to two events this evening.
 
The first, at the Queen Mary Centre, was a Christmas Family Party organised by the Rima’s Ladies Lithuanian Community group that meet regularly at that venue. There was a festival atmosphere with all the children in costume and families having a lot of fun. Games, dances and music were shared and everybody was joining in. A Lithuanian Santa Claus made an appearance, complete with a very colourful Christmas Stave. It was quite a spectacle! The food that had been made by members of the group and donated by volunteers looked absolutely delicious, but I was unable to try and because I had to rush off to….
 
…. The 14th Scouts Christmas Carol Service at the Trinity Methodist Church. Which was also immense fun, with an unusual delivery full of action, drama and powerful messages. The Beavers, Cubs and Scouts all took part, including a lovely instrumental solo on the clarinet. The 14th Scouts raise money every year to buy a hamper for the Trafford Ward to bring a smile to people who have long-term illness and are in hospital over the Christmas period. This year, the staff of the Trafford ward returned the favour and brought selection packs for the children and young people who work so hard to raise money for them. It was very touching.
 
All in all a very nice evening. Thank you to all those involved for your hard work, and for inviting me to join you. Also thanks to Councillor Samantha Hoy for being my additional person to help look after the Mayoral chain.

Christmas Lights

Christmas Lights

A few people have moaned a bit about the Christmas Lights and I thought I’d put down the background and facts to help people understand where we are and how we got here.

A few years ago we really DID have terrible lights. Basically, we had the bulbs along the river and some more bulbs in the Market Place, and that’s it. The Christmas Light Switch On was a handful of Councillors and a few dozen people watching a switch get pressed and some bulbs light up. It wasn’t ideal.

Every year people complained bitterly about them, but Christmas lights are a lot of money and Town Council didn’t want to commit that sort of budget to improving them. When I became a Town Councillor I put in a motion to spend a huge chunk on lights and managed to get support for it.

But we wanted to be sure the people of the Town supported it to0, so we did a vote in the local papers. Here’s a blog post from 2014 about it:http://www.stevetierney.org/the-great-wisbech-christmas-li…/

A majority voted for the improvements, but even then there were still a fair few who thought it was a waste of money and shouldn’t be done.

With a majority vote and support on the Council we pressed on and implemented the new lights, which took six months of getting competitive quotes, designing schemes etc.

Myth Buster 1: We did not spend loads of money on designing a scheme, that was all included in the quotation as the companies sought to win our business.

Although it was quite close and we weren’t sure we’d get the improvements in time we did manage to get them installed for Christmas 2014. That year the Christmas Light Switch on event broke all records. It has continued to break them each year since.

Myth Buster 2: You can’t just buy any old lights and string them up. Government authorities must purchase suitable, safe, durable, commercial lighting from reputable companies.

£20,000 does not go as far as you might think. We managed to secure the central piece in the Market Place, the lights and glowing stars on the trees, the light fixtures that adorn most exits from the Market Place, and the long channel of lights than run along High Street. Also some improvements elsewhere.

We did not spend all the money the first year and we did not install all the lights we had purchased. We have added a little each year since: lights on Hill Street. Lights on the Town Council Chambers. In response to calls from people for lights on the Freedom Bridge Roundabout, we did those.

Myth Buster 3: March have lovely Christmas Lights. They were donated by a very wealthy benefactor in a will. March are very lucky to have had such a generous donation. Wisbech has not had any large donations but would certainly welcome any if you have some funds you can spare, or know somebody who does.

Although spending £20,000 may seem like a lot, people do not realise that it costs a huge amount for a contractor to install the lights and to remove them, and this cost repeats every year. Every time we increase the amount of lights we put up, we increase the large installation and removal costs too. So when new lights are purchased that is not a one-off cost, but must also consider the additional costs every year for installation, runtime and removal.

Myth Buster 4: Lights do sometimes break down. This is outside of our control. When they break down the Council does everything it can to get the contractor to put the problem right as soon as possible. Sometimes this can be done quickly, sometimes it cannot. The North Brink lights were down for a few days and have now been repaired. Some of the lights on the Christmas Tree aren’t presenting working and that will be remedied as soon as possible.

All of this – the Switch On Event, the organisation of the lights, the planning, is done by a tiny team of dedicated volunteers and a handful of Town Council staff and Councillors. Anybody can volunteer to be a part of the Festivals Working Party, which organises and runs almost all of our town festivals. Please do volunteer if you can spare the time. It’s hard work, but mostly rewarding. The only time it’s not rewarding is when somebody sits on their couch and tells those volunteers how much better everything should be. If you want it to be better, come be a part of making it better.

Myth Buster 5: What can be done in the Market Place is quite limited. To install Christmas Lights requires special permanent fixtures to attach the lights to and to get power to them. All the buildings around the Market Place are privately owned and you cannot attach things to those buildings without securing permission from the owner. Owners are not always easy to contact and do not always say “yes.”

Personally, I like our town lights and would not want to see them gaudier, or too over the top. I think they are tasteful and lovely. But what I think doesn’t matter. If enough of you want the Council to spend another huge sum of money on more lights and more annual installation costs then let me know and I will go and make the case all over again. But bear in mind that this will almost certainly require a Council Tax rise over and above the demands that Town Council save the Museum, save and run The Castle, and invest large sums renovating the Market Place. It’s a debate that’s well worth having, if you think we need to.

Merry Christmas!

Wisbech Christmas Fayre & More

Wisbech Christmas Fayre & More
Yesterday I arrived. before the start of the Wisbech Christmas Fayre to join representatives of the Chamber of Commerce to visit all the shops who had entered the Christmas Window competition and judge the winners. There were lots of great entries but we decided in the end to give commendations to the two runners up; Cats Pajamas and The Wool Shop, and award the Winner’s Trophy to Sarah’s Flowers on Market Street.
 
I officially opened the Fayre at 10.40AM and then stayed to enjoy the Carols from several local schools. With all the snow it was very festive – and very cold.
 
I spent some time visiting stalls and buying things and then at 11.45AM I joined the Churches Together team and their Walking Nativity. Touring the town on foot and dressed in nativity costumes they sang carols at several different stops along the way, including inside Poundland! It was a lot of fun.
 
The Walking Nativity then joined the Salvation Army band and, altogether, we sang from the stage area to an audience at the Christmas Fayre.
 
Then onto the Sense shop, where I had been asked to draw the winning raffle together for their big draw, and to make the telephone call to the lucky winner.
 
At this point there was 20 minutes to snatch a cuppa, before rushing on to Rose Lodge Care Home where I joined residents and staff for their Christmas Party.
 
After that, I grabbed my DJ gear and rushed to Newton, where I was the DJ at their annual Christmas Party.
 
And that was just the daytime. :)
 
Busy day, very festive and wonderful to see the people of Wisbech and the surrounding villages enjoying themselves.

St Augustine’s, Knit & Natter, Christmas Trees Everywhere!

St Augustine’s, Knit & Natter, Christmas Trees Everywhere!
I went along to St Augustine’s Church today to see their wonderful Christmas Tree Display, to enjoy the Warblers’ Carol Singing Carolaoke, and to meet the ladies from Knit & Natter who have been working on a Mayoral Christmas Jumper and a Christmas hanging display for the Town Council Chambers.
 
If you could catch the atmosphere of Christmas and bottle it, you’d have an idea of what St Augustine’s is like at this time of year. The display of Christmas Trees by different people and organisations is lovely, and everybody you meet is merry and full of joy.
 
I was bowled over by my spectacular Christmas knitted jumper and I will be returning in the New Year to meet the lady who actually did most of the knitting. The hanging decoration I commissioned as a present to the Town Council from the Mayor looks amazing too. I could not have asked for more from these talented ladies and I am so very pleased with these items.
 
I enjoyed the carols too, trying my best to keep up with the Warblers, whose jolly singing was a pleasure to hear.
 
Thank you all and a very Merry Christmas to you!
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Orchard’s Nativity

Orchard’s Nativity
Early this afternoon I was invited to watch the Orchards School Reception Year’s dress rehearsal of their nativity play.
 
I was joined by residents of Rose Lodge residential care home and the children of two local nursery schools as the “test audience”.
 
We were all wowed by the delightful, colourful and musical show. The young children spoke, sung and acted well and we were all transported to Bethlethem, to see Joseph and Mary take their important journey.
 
Parents get to see the full show this Thursday. I don’t think it will be too much of a spoiler to say there’s a happy ending, but trust me on this, you will all be very pleased and very proud of what your children have accomplished. A fine show by Orchard’s Reception Year children. Well done!

Christmas Light Switch-On 2017

Christmas Light Switch-On 2017

It has been a fantastic day, taken up by one of the big events of the Wisbech calendar, the Christmas Light Switch-on.

Up early to help set the event up, then off to “rehearsal” for the part I was going to play later. Back again to help as a steward. Then a quick visit to the Institute as the Mayor, to open the Christmas with Cricket show, featuring the comedian and the awesome and wonderful Nine Lives Theatre Company.

Back to being a steward again for a couple of hours before joining the lovely folk of the Walsoken church for Carol Singing in the Horsefair. At this point I was joined by my Wife and Spiderman (who was acting as my super-bodyguard for the day.) :)

Then I went to meet Bob Dalek (yes, he is a real Dalek) and get him safely into the festivities.

With the big “switch on” fast approaching I made my way to the stage, where I met the other volunteers who were playing a part in the little surprise we had planned.

My friend and colleague, Garry Tibbs, who was last year’s Mayor, had previously battled Darth Vader and I just felt like adding a bit of action was a traditional we shouldn’t end.

So it was that the stage was invaded by the Batman villains; Two Face, The Riddler and the Joker, all intent on preventing the lights from being turned on. I was joined by Gru (from Despicable Me) and Spiderman. Of course, there was a battle. I hope people enjoyed it (because it took hours of practice to choreograph the fairly short scene) and the Good Guys won. Lights Switched on. Job done. :) My sincere thanks to Dave Topgood (Spiderman), Cllr Andy Maul (Gru), James geddis (the Joker), the super-talented Giles Maythan (Two Face and the choreographer/director/stage combat expert), Annie Larkin (The tiny Riddler) and Michele Larkin who took my crazy idea and brought her fantastic team to make it happen.

After the show the Festivals Team have to pack everything away, and it was getting really cold by then, but we still got done in record time.

I think it went very well and was a great day. Thanks to all the usual people who are behind most of our festivals. Cllr Sam Hoy, the Oliver Family, the rest of the Town Councillors and staff, the Town Clerk, Tinfish, Nine Lives Theatre Company (who helped us plan and deliver the supervillain fun), the sound guys, the various acts that performed, Wisbech Lions, the Angles Theatre, Brenda and Tony Barber, and all the friends, volunteers, stewards and helpers who work tirelessly behind the scenes to make days like this happen. It gets bigger and better every year.

Merry Christmas!

   

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HzdY5o7qAvU

Wisbech Christmas Light Switch On 2017

Wisbech Christmas Light Switch On 2017

Christmas Diary Part 1

Christmas Diary Part 1

The first week of December marks the beginning of what, for many of us, is the most frantic month of the year.  Loads of Christmas things to do, but the normal day-to-day work doesn’t conveniently take a pause and so we often find ourselves overloaded.  I’m no different to most, so as the new Month rolled in I knew it was going to be hectic.

On Monday I was at work here in Wisbech, and in the evening I had a NECCA Officer’s Meeting to attend (something of an eye-opener, that one.)  Tuesday I was in Hertfordshire at my factory there, and in the evening I was at the Newton & Tydd Conservatives Christmas Meeting (and very pleasant it was too, as we have snacks and drinks alongside the regular business.)

On Wednesday I had several conflicting duties to attend and it was a challenge to decide which were more urgent than which.  The evening featured several visits to see constituents who had issues they needed help with in both Medworth and Peckover.

Thursday I had to travel to Kings Lynn for two meetings there as part of a project I’m working on (more about that in the New Year) but I did get the evening off to spend some time with the family and the only early night of the week.

Friday I spent the day working on the accounts of two of my businesses and chasing up debts, but had to rush off in the late afternoon to attend a meeting in March of the 20Twenty Productions group (with whom I am a trustee.)  I drove immediately from that to the Alexandra Road Conservative Club where I was the quizmaster for a Fundraising Christmas Quiz with supper and drinks.  That was a great evening and a big “Thank you!” to all the people who came along, participated, and made it such fun.  Commiserations to the Farmer Team – who almost always win quizzes but who were pipped at the post (literally on a tie breaker point) by the Brunton Collective.

On Saturday I had business as a DJ; first at a Child’s birthday party, then straight on to run the disco for the Newton Village Free Family Disco.  No rest for the wicked Tory because I was then straight on again to the King’s Head for my final gig there of the year – good turnouts at all the events and I enjoyed them though I was shattered by the time I finally got home.

I was up early this morning to get some household chores done and try and finish my December Councillor’s newsletter – which I hope to put out next week.  This afternoon I was invited to attend a Carol Service at St. Augustine’s Church on Lynn Road.  It was a lovely event, well attended and supported.  It has a beautiful atmosphere in that particular church, even more so on a dark December afternoon with dozens of Christmas Trees all around (they have a Christmas Tree Festival ongoing) and glitting Christmas Lights.  I enjoyed it very much and would like to thank Julie Mills who invited me.

This evening I have a meeting with a Town Councillor who shall not be named.  Yet.  The meeting is to finalise some paperwork.  There may be a surprise coming.  :)

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!