It’s official! This year was our most successful Christmas Tree festival ever! The church looked  absolutely beautiful, be-decked with 80, yes 80 trees, nativity scenes, a doll’s  house and a  parachuting Santa Claus!! I hope many of you got the chance to come and see it  for it was a joy to behold. Many local businesses joined in this year with traditional and imaginative trees and it was clear that people had taken time and effort to produce them. Our mayor, Derek Gardner, looked at every single tree and was genuinely amazed and moved at the different designs and types of tree and the message that each one conveyed. 

Of course this festival wouldn’t be so marvellous without the help and support of many people. Jenny Thompson is my right hand chief elf and helps me to start planning several months ahead.   However, Carol Graham, my other Christmas elf,  and Gwen Mackrell deserve a special mention too. Gwen and her team organise and run the tombola which brings in extra valuable money for the charities and she gives up her weekend to do . Carol just appears to  lives in the pod for 3 days! Andrew is also very good at clearing up and tidying. He must be a true godsend at home, Fiona! Thank you also to all of you who  provided mince pies and other delectable goodies for us to offer. 

We had more visitors than ever through the church door and thanks to their generosity in donations and with the takings from the tombola we have made almost £1000 to share between our chosen charities, Dementia Friendly Alton and Christians against Poverty.  That is a fantastic amount and I’m still bowled over by such a huge sum! When you look back at the first Christmas Tree festival in 2008  when we made around £200 you can see how far we’ve come. 

The Christmas Market run by Sarah Neish and which focused on delicious homemade goodies and crafts was also a great success and raised £660. Another fantastic sum. Peter and Margaret Bell also boosted the takings with the sale of Christmas jigsaws.  Well done and thanks  to all who contributed in any way. 

It looks like  this festival has become a fixture in the Parish of the Resurrection’s calendar now and it’s only 11 months before we can do it all again! If you’re struck with inspiration, jot your idea down and re-visit it around October! I’ll be reminding you! Really, I can’t thank you all enough. Alton is a town that’s all about community and here at St Lawrence we proved that the church has a vital role to play in building that community and making people feel valued. We can’t ask for any more than that. 

May I wish you all a happy and  healthy New Year full of joy and peace, generosity and fellowship with one another. 

The Christmas Tree Fairy. x