Help us make Downham Market sparkle this Christmas

Traders in Downham are raising money to pay for this year's Christmas lights. From left, Margaret Ke

Traders in Downham are raising money to pay for this year's Christmas lights. From left, Margaret Key, with Maureen Hibling and Mike Edwards. Picture; Matthew Usher. - Credit: Matthew Usher

Traders have launched a campaign to light up Downham Market for Christmas.

Crowds gather in Downham Market place to watch the Christmas lights switch-on in November 1989

Crowds gather in Downham Market place to watch the Christmas lights switch-on in November 1989

They're hoping to raise £2,000 to put on a dazzling display of festive lights for shoppers in the town.

A benefit dance and supper is being held on Saturday, September 21 to kick this year's appeal off.

'We need to raise about £2,000 to get the lights up,' said Maureen Hibling, secretary of the Downham Market Chamber of Trade.

'They're all put up by volunteers, but we do have to pay high insurance, public liability and so on, and we have to buy new light bulbs every year.


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'We're one of the few towns which puts lights right across the streets. It gives the town a more festive feeling and gets people out to the shops.'

Mrs Hibling, who runs the Sew Inn fabric shop, on Lynn Road, said the chamber hopes to hold the switch-on on Sunday, November 24 with entertainment in the town centre beforehand.

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Both of the town's squares will be in use with some streets closed to through traffic during the event.

Traders and volunteers traditionally give up two Sundays before the event to ensure that everything is ship-shape and ready for the big switch-on.

'We're holding a dance in September to raise some money,' said Mrs Hibling. 'We do get some assistance from the town council and the borough but you know what it's like with local government funding these days.'

Lawrence Welham, who runs the music store Lewks in Wales Court, near the clock tower, said: 'I first got involved with the lights about 25 years ago.

'They've been built up gradually and just got better and better over the years.

'It's vital to the town. It's one of those things that's always been done over the years and I just can't imagine the town without it.'

Light Up Downham, a dance to raise money towards the Christmas lights, will be held at Downham Town Hall on Saturday, September 21 (7.30pm until late).

There will be dancing to AdLib, a licensed bar and buffet supper.

Tickets, priced £8.50, are available from Lewks on 01366 383762.

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