�20k appeal to revive Burnham Market’s Christmas lights

A determined fundraising effort involving nudity, coercion and celebrity appeal is under way to raise the �20,000 needed to revive Burnham Market's Christmas lights.

The fading filaments which have lit up previous festive displays in the village have been deemed unfit for further use, prompting an urgent appeal for replacements in time for this year's November 20 switch-on.

And the urgent drive to fund eco-friendly low-energy LED replacements is being spearheaded by Emma Tagg, managing director of the Hoste Arms hotel.

A saucy calendar went on sale for �12 in the hotel reception on Tuesday featuring staff posing naked, with their modesty preserved by carefully-positioned props like feather dusters, piles of oysters and Hoste umbrellas.

And tomorrow the fundraising begins in earnest with a glitzy party at the well-heeled hostelry which Ms Tagg hopes could bring in more than half the money needed.

She has been pestering local businesses for donations, auction lots and raffle prizes, while organising the ceremony which will see the lights illuminated by Holby City actress and Celebrity MasterChef winner Lisa Faulkner.

'Yes, I had to take matters in hand, as nothing was being done about the lights, and we couldn't let down the thousands of visitors who come to Burnham Market just to see how pretty the village looks over the Christmas and New Year period,' said Ms Tagg.

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'Here at the Hoste Arms we are inundated with bookings from guests who come to stay here the weekend of the switch-on, so this year we need to make it extra special and well worth the visit.

'I am afraid I have been sending out very bossy emails to everyone who has a business in the village, asking for help on the day, donations and ideas for raising money – and it seems to be working.'

Max Graham-Wood, owner of Satchells wine shop and chairman of Burnham Market Traders' Association, is also a key part of the campaign to restore the razzamatazz of the event after last year's low-key celebration.

He said confidence in the appeal's success was so high that an order for more than 2,000 'golf-ball' lights, of a similar size to those previously used, had already been placed.

'I can tell you there is absolutely no danger of this not happening,' he said. 'Emma and I are determined to get the event back to how it used to be. The day of the switch-on is going to be very special – we want to give people a party and give them something to look at.'

The Burnham Market switch-on event will take place from 3.30pm on Saturday, November 20. It will include Father Christmas in his grotto accompanied by real reindeer, fairground rides and seasonal food and drink.