Community spirit is helping to light up Dereham

Roger Atterwill, chairman of Dereham Business Forum putting the Christmas lights up in Dereham earli

Roger Atterwill, chairman of Dereham Business Forum putting the Christmas lights up in Dereham earlier this week.

The 20ft Christmas tree is up in the Market Place and strings of colourful lights have been entwined around its branches.

The Christmas lights in Dereham are being set up ready for the light switch on - From left, Roger At

The Christmas lights in Dereham are being set up ready for the light switch on - From left, Roger Atterwill and Sean Atterwill putting up the lights. Picture: Matthew Usher.

Thanks to a major fund-raising effort and a swell of community spirit Dereham looks set for one of its brightest festive seasons.

With the lights being switched on at 4.30pm on Sunday people are being urged to join in the fun and show support for their town.

Town mayor Linda Goreham said: 'It has always been a real event in our town. It is a chance for people to get together in our town centre and make it a joyous occasion. It is good for business and wonderful for the children.

'I always get excited about Christmas and the lights will be so much better this year as more money has been spent on them thanks to some decent donations. I think the tree will be super duper and something really special this year.

'I hope people will support the event, even if they come for an hour - I really don't think they will be disappointed. It is the place to be this Sunday.'

Roger Atterwill, chairman of Dereham Business Forum and owner of Wensum Valley Electrical, offered to put the lights up for free both on the tree and around the Market Place.

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He said there had been a real feeling of community spirit this year.

'People have been amazing,' he said. 'We have eight new strings of lights on the tree which cost £1500 and all that money was raised by various groups.

'We started putting wall lights up on Tuesday and people were coming out of shops with coffee and cakes for us. Drivers have been beeping their horns as they go past and children have been coming up to have a look. There is already a great atmosphere in the town.'

The lights will be switched on by the new mascot for next year's Dereham Carnival.

It will be revealed to the public for the first time and, thanks to a competition run by the carnival committee, its name will also be announced.

Judy Rogers, on the Carnival committee, said: 'Our competition resulted in lots of names for the mascot, many of which would have been suitable, with entries from local schools and from lots of individual children. One name was chosen and will be announced at 4.20pm on Sunday.

'Our mascot is very shy but is really looking forward to meeting everyone and switching on the lights at 4.30pm.'

She urged people to come out and support Sunday's market and switch-on to show that Dereham's community spirit is thriving.

'Shopping local keeps businesses strong and in turn filters down to projects like ours being a success,' she said.

'We have great town with lots of positive things about it and and if we all work together with the community spirit we are seeing now and with people wanting to be involved with the Carnival we can make our town an even better place to live.'