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Ice rink first for this year's switch-on

PUBLISHED: 15:46 26 August 2009 | UPDATED: 10:55 07 July 2010

Dereham, the newly-crowned big heart of Norfolk, showed its champion community spirit again this week as groups from across the town vowed to save this year's Christmas lights switch-on.

Dereham, the newly-crowned big heart of Norfolk, showed its champion community spirit again this week as groups from across the town vowed to save this year's Christmas lights switch-on.

And this year's fun will include a new attraction - a 12-metre ice rink.

The Dereham Area Partnership, which has co-ordinated switch-on celebrations for the last seven years, is taking a step back from leading the organisation of this year's event.

And so it is joining forces with the chamber of trade, town council and Dereham Times to help give the town a yuletide event to be proud of.

This year an ice rink is to take centre stage at the switch-on. The 10 metre by 12 metre rink which holds about 40 people at a time will be installed in the Market Place throughout the afternoon and early evening on November 29 when the festive celebration takes place.

The full details of the switch-on are still in the planning stages but along with the ice rink in the Market Place there will also be some fairground attractions, Santa's grotto, and craft and charity stalls, as well as some festive entertainment from groups of singers and musicians.

George Hayes from the Dereham Area Partnership said: “We are absolutely delighted that the event is going to go ahead again.

“I think it is going to be as good if not better an event as in previous years, particularly with the new ice rink.

“We are still looking for extra support from people for this year and in future years. The wider we spread the workload the better the event will be.”

Chamber spokesman Stephen Cross, who thought up the idea of the ice rink, said: “I thought nothing was going to happen this year for the switch-on and I did not want to let that happen. Hopefully the ice rink is something people will enjoy.”

Dereham town council clerk Tony Needham said: “The town council was concerned to hear that the Christmas lights partnership would no longer be able to organise the switch-on event, but fully understood the reason for them stepping back.

“But it is really pleased that a confederation of organisations is now coming together to make sure this event can continue. It is clear that the work in organising such an event is too much for one organisation but if the town council, chamber of trade, Dereham Times and the Lights partnership can share the work then we shall have a switch on event, and hopefully encourage more volunteers and organisations to help out next year, and make it a better event.”

The lights switch on usually attracts up to 4,000 people each year and over the past few years the town's Christmas lights have hit the headlines for a number of reasons. In 2007 there were fears Dereham would not be lit up for Christmas because of lack of funding but a last minute campaign led by the Dereham Times meant that the hard-working lights partnership could make the town twinkle. And last year the town council spent £10,000 on new lights and maintenance.

Anybody who is interested in helping with Dereham's Christmas lights switch should contact Mr Hayes by calling 07884 263241 or emailing ghayes2098@aol.com

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