Tree festival better than ever

RICHARD PARR With 71 decorated trees and 63 charities taking part, this year's Christmas tree festival at Fakenham Parish Church, which opens tomorrow, looks set to be the biggest and best yet.

RICHARD PARR

With 71 decorated trees and 63 charities taking part, this year's Christmas tree festival at Fakenham Parish Church, which opens tomorrow, looks set to be the biggest and best yet.

Thousands of people are expected to visit the parish church during the festival and it is hoped that £20,000 will be raised for the participating charities.

This is the seventh tree festival to be staged in the town and the rector, the Rev Adrian Bell, who has been the enthusiastic driving force behind the event, said it had grown from humble beginnings to become one of the biggest in the region.

He said: “The Christmas tree festival provides a wonderful introduction to the themes of Christmas, of light, love, hope and joy as we celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. During the last six years we have raised over £100,000 and this has given us great pleasure. Learning about the charities and meeting their fundraisers has opened up a completely new area of concern for the Church.”

Months of planning goes into the festival and Mr Bell said he never ceased to be amazed at the imaginative and creative ideas that people come up with when decorating their trees. “The trees take on a magical appearance, particularly when they are all illuminated and the light fades in late afternoon,” he said.

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Among the charities represented is the EDP's We Care Appeal in support of the unsung people who care for relatives in their homes. The EDP and Fakenham & Wells Times' tree is decorated with mini-front pages featuring landmark news stories.

Mr Bell said that thanks are due to many individuals and groups who contributed to the event in numerous ways and he particularly thanked Roger Burbidge and his team leaders of the festival, Fakenham Garden Centre, which provides all the trees at a special rate and some they supply free.

As well as the trees being on show, there is a Christmas market run by the rector's wife, Marian Bell, and refreshments, including lunches and teas, are served throughout the opening hours by a team of hard-working volunteers.

The festival is being officially opened tonight at a preview for the charities' invited representatives, by Fakenham mayor Brenda Coldrick.

Prayers are said every hour on behalf of the charities and people can write their messages on paper stars for those unwell or in memory of a loved one and attach them to the prayer tree.

The festival is open from tomorrow at 10am until 8pm. It is open each day at those times until December 6. Admission is free.

More information about the festival is available from the parish office on 01328 862268.

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