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VISIT HELMSLEY NEWS • Updated , 7:12 pm

Helmsley set for a tree-mendous Christmas as local business steps in to fund a town tree

Following Town Council claims that residents don’t want a town Christmas tree, Helmsley’s Libby Butler Jewellers steps in to bring some sparkle to the festive season

Showing the true spirit of Christmas, one local business has come forward to allow Helmsley to return to its tradition of having a central Christmas tree for local residents to enjoy.

Helmsley Town Council had refused to fund a Christmas Tree – with the town not having one for the last few years – as they believed the tree was wanted by businesses but not residents.

Having heard Helmsley would have to do without a tree again, Borogate’s Libby Butler Jewellers, part of the Helmsley in Business group, stepped in to ‘Spruce’ up the town, with an offer to pay for the tree.

Duncombe Park Estate will provide an 18ft tree at a discounted rate, and the Helmsley in Business group will pay for new decorations. All of the town’s lights, including the Christmas Tree, will be switched on during the evening of Friday 30th November, returning to the town’s traditional ‘Carols round the Tree’ start to the festive season. Following the light switch on at 6pm, people will be encouraged to attend the Christmas Tree Festival preview evening at All Saints Church, starting at 6.20pm, where visitors can enjoy a glass of mulled wine, mince pies from Auntie Anne’s Bakery and festive music, whilst glimpsing a sneak peek at the 25 specially decorated trees.

The event will be followed the next day (1st December) by the Small Business Saturday Family Fun Day, including a giant Nutcracker Trail; snow globe selfies; meet the Air Ambulance, Fire Brigade and Mountain Rescue crews; free tastings; music and entertainment; Santa’s Grotto; competitions; rides; arts and crafts and wreath making. Ryedale District Council has kindly provided half the Market Place car park for stalls and games, along with all day parking for £1.50 at the Cleveland Way car park.

Helmsley in Business (HiB) has raised over £10,000 for Christmas decorations over the last six years, investing in new lights each year to help keep the town shining bright.

As Helmsley will have a central tree this year, instead of the Town Hall Trustees funding two Christmas trees outside the Town Hall, they are instead allowing HIB to put up a large, lit Christmas decoration on the rear of the building and are purchasing one themselves to also be used.

Andy Mardle, owner of Libby Butler Jewellers, said: “We’re delighted to help out if it means we can have a tree in the town again. We know local residents and visitors love to see it and have missed it over recent years – local customers are 60 per cent of our business so we talk to them regularly. It seems odd that the town council said the residents didn’t want a tree, and that it was all for businesses, as we don’t see that as being the case. Helmsley’s wonderful character is formed by its strong offering of independent small businesses, and the town would be a very different place without them. But, of course, many of us business owners are also residents!

“When we first moved here in 2009 the town was very poorly lit at Christmas, and the Christmas tree got sadder and sadder – and now the town looks fantastic, thanks to Helmsley in Business leading on regenerating the Christmas lights. It’s really magical and Helmsley deserves to shine bright at Christmas. Helmsley in Business is a great force for good in the town, and we are lucky that it continues to go from strength to strength.  Hopefully the town council will find other ways to support both residents and businesses at Christmas and beyond, so in the meantime we are very happy to sponsor the tree for the town. More than anything, we look forward to the community coming together over the Christmas period – we open every day in December, and it’s wonderful to feel the festive atmosphere in the town.”

Tony Porter, chair of Helmsley in Business and owner of Porters Coffee Shop, said: “We would like to thank Libby Butler Jewellers for stepping in to offer to pay for the town Christmas tree – it’s very much appreciated, and will be a fantastic addition to the festive decorations this year. Helmsley in Business fundraises all year round to buy decorations, to keep the town sparkling in the Christmas season, and we know the residents love to see them. It was something we thought was very important back when the group launched in 2012, and the Christmas events and lights are a great way for businesses to ‘give back’ to the local community. The Town Hall Trustees usually pay for some beautiful trees outside the town hall, which always look amazing, but nothing beats a central tree and that place to gather and celebrate the start of the festive season with some carol singing. It should be an evening to remember, along with the preview of the Christmas Tree Festival, and we look forward to seeing many local residents and friends there on 30th November.”

Following the preview evening, the Christmas Tree festival runs from 1st December to 16th December and is open daily from 10am to 4pm. Tickets for the preview evening cost £5 each and can be bought on the night, or from Elijah Woods Newsagents, Helmsley School or Porters Coffee Shop. Primary school aged children and younger go free. Entry to the festival on the remaining days is free, but donations are welcome, which will be split between the Christmas lights fund, All Saints Church and Helmsley Scouts, which is looking to rebuild its hut.

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