£5,000 grant helps to fund new low-energy Christmas light bulbs in Clare

Buildings in Clare town centre lit up for Christmas 2014

Buildings in Clare town centre lit up for Christmas 2014 - Credit: citizenside.com

More than £18,000 has been raised towards the annual Christmas light display in a west Suffolk town this year – including a £5,000 grant from National Grid to compensate for disruption caused by gas mains work in the area during the summer.

Six dedicated volunteers on Clare’s Christmas lights committee, headed by Robin and Victoria Stone, have been working extra hard to raise the necessary funds to replace old filament light bulbs with new low energy units.

During July and August this year, Clare was virtually shut down when National Grid had to carry out major repairs to the gas main in the town.

So Mr and Mrs Stone asked if there was any way the company could give something back to the community by means of compensation.

They were advised by National Grid’s engineering manager, Kevin Blundell, to apply for money under the new Bringing Energy To Life Community Fund which judges projects against certain criteria.


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Mr Stone said: “Our request for money to replace the bulbs fitted the criteria because the Clare Christmas lights switch-on is a really big community event – and the new bulbs will also help reduce energy consumption.

“Our lights in Clare are unique and we didn’t want to replace them with new standard white lights. By getting replacement bulbs for the old ones, they will use a 15th of the electricity, will save us about £700 a year in energy bills and will be much more hardy to stand up to the bad weather.”

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The Christmas lights switch-on, which this year will take place on December 4, usually costs about £8,000 to stage so finding another £10,000 to fund the replacement bulbs took a “monumental” fundraising effort including a summer fair, quiz nights and raffles.

Mr Stone added: “It’s the last remaining big event we have in Clare and it is really worth all the effort when you see the children’s faces as the Christmas lights go on. The grant from National Grid has been a great help.”

The event will start with a Christmas gift and craft fair in the parish church from 4pm. Then at 5.30pm a procession will form in the High Street where Santa will be handing out oranges and free glow-sticks.

The procession will work its way to Market Hill ready for the countdown to the lights switch-on at 6pm, which will be performed by a student from Clare Community Primary School. Other activities will include a children’s fairground ride, entertainer Stevie Spud, side stalls, a barbecue, hot soup and mulled wine.

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