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It is an undeniable fact that countless groups and organisations have had the opportunity at the Fayre to raise awareness of both their work and their aspirations, as well as raising a few welcome pounds for their funds, at this well supported event and Father Christmas has continued to make a welcome appearance which has made a lot of young children very happy.

With new technologies in Christmas lighting quite incredible effects that we could never have even dreamed of initially can now be demonstrated particularly on the magnificent buildings like our Town Hall which has become the main focal point of the scheme with the Town Council continuing to provide an appropriate centrepiece Christmas tree each year which we light up on their behalf.

This ever-changing technology which is less expensive to run and safer and more robust to use and store, though it has to be said is much more expensive to initially purchase, has also meant that lots of homes around Melksham also get decorated, often with quite amazing effect and a great deal of media attention, and what is really good is that often large amounts of money are raised for various charities from the efforts of these homeowners . . . another part of Melksham being so special at Christmas.

Lots of people have contributed in just so many ways to making Melksham's lights more than a bit special, not just those putting up the lights, or having a stall at the Fayre, but the businesses who have a collecting box, and of course all of their customers who generously donate, companies who supply us with materials or lend us vehicles, etc, etc. It would be foolish to even attempt to try to list names here but for this potted history's sake a few people really stand out as exceptional.

Again I mention Roy Bowen who not only had the vision but also the energy and commitment to encourage incredible support and who had a kind of mission statement before mission statements even existed that 'We should try to improve the lights year on year', and whose poor health sadly meant he had to eventually leave it to his friends whom I'm sure he would agree have never let him down. Jean Harris who continues to do all the spadework on the Christmas Fayre and makes it work. Len Bealing who has been a volunteer for 34 years since the lights in town first started and is still helping. Andy Missen who designed and built those stylish pylons on the Town Bridge and who sadly died before he had the opportunity to see them in place and lit up. Alex Goodhind of 'that house in Longford Road' who has undoubtedly added greatly to making Melksham a place worthy of a visit at Christmas along with his many neighbours as well as many others in town who have entered so eye-catchingly into the yuletide spirit, and of course all the volunteers over the years who despite everything thrown at them have continued to put up and improve the lights each year just like Roy wanted.

Last year I wrote here ‘Finally, and almost reluctantly for the fear of accusations of nepotism, a mention for Paul Weymouth, who has used his design, electrical and engineering skills, and his unbelievable head for heights and all things difficult in recent years to produce many of the excellent lighting effects we have at present.’

Forget the word ‘reluctantly’. His effort, enthusiasm and dedication is incredible and an inspiration. He is a credit to our town, our group and himself. I’m very proud to give him due credit.

Naturally it has to be added that Paul has had the help and support of the volunteer team, all of whom could reasonably be individually mentioned in this item, like for example Andy Kolczac who received a Civic Award this year for his exceptional contribution to the lights over many years, and young Rhys Dunn who came third in the local newspaper’s ‘Town Personality of the Year’ award as people applauded his very real contribution to the lights at such a young age. As an aside, these three along with the tireless Graham Fryer also put up (and importantly took down) the Carnival bunting which I know added greatly to the excellent atmosphere on Carnival night and produced a Christmas Lights Carnival Float.

Finally may I once again say on behalf of all the volunteers in the team that we hope you all enjoy the Christmas period and if you are in or around the Melksham area that you take up our invitation to come along and see our efforts to help light up our great little town over the most joyous of seasons. You will I know be made very welcome.

      Alan Weymouth, Christmas Lights Co-ordinator

Hello and welcome to our second and even better web-site!

As with all things connected with the town’s Christmas Lights Group the idea of a web site started off as a somewhat amateurish effort. Some of us ‘of a certain age’ hardly knew what a web site was!

Paul Weymouth who came up with the idea and built the first site told me then 'I don't really know what I'm doing, but it can't be that hard', and away he went in his own inimitable style and built our 2009 site . . . however a year on and looking at similar professionally (i.e. expensively) produced web sites, I believe ours compares very favourably and as I had hoped last year, has finished up as ‘a highly professional looking, interesting and informative guide to our town's Christmas lights’.

Having taken over the role of light's co-ordinator several years ago I am grateful to once again be given this opportunity to include a brief history of how and why the group came about because it also gives me the opportunity to collectively thank every single person, group, organisation or business who has contributed in any way to what has proved to be a journey of continued improvement which I believe helps make Melksham at Christmas such a special time and place each year.

During the early 1990's it was becoming pretty obvious that Melksham's Christmas lights were becoming a burden for the members of the Chamber of Commerce who were currently putting them up each year . . . so step forward our mentor and hero Roy Bowen who had recently retired as a publican to take things easy . . . or so he thought!

Roy was absolutely convinced that a few volunteers were a better bet than any number of pressed men and so was born the Melksham Christmas Lights Group.

Roy had an incredible knack of convincing local individuals, groups and organisations that getting up early on a Sunday morning, then getting frozen or soaked without reward and not without the occasional criticism or odd threat was really great fun and well worth getting involved in and his enthusiasm and drive soon had a committee up and running who were meeting seemingly weekly to get his project literally off the ground and up the lampposts and along the facades of many shop fronts in time for Christmas.

Roy started organising the lights an incredible 18 years ago and in that time many many people have come along and helped and of course for whatever reasons many have left, but what is for sure is that the spirit that was generated at that time lives on and the lights and the popular Christmas Fayre have undoubtedly gone from strength to strength and become very much part of helping to make Christmas in Melksham a very special time and place . . . something we are very proud of.

It's hard to imagine but Len Bealing was a member of the original group who put up the lights for the first time thirty-four years ago and has been doing so ever since. I'm told there is no truth in the rumour that it's the only excuse he could think of at the time to nip out for a pint at Sunday lunchtimes!

At the time of setting up the Christmas Lights Group the town council were very ably served by then Town Clerk Jean Harris and Admin Assistant Gill Butler, whom along with then mayor Davina Griffin who offered to chair meetings of the committee, all worked tirelessly to assist Roy in helping to achieve his vision and when those ladies put their heads together the idea of the Christmas Fayre to create an event worthy of the great lights switch-on was born and they, the committee, and a whole hosts of people made it work.

Eighteen highly successful years later and Jean still, seemingly single-handedly nowadays, continues to organise the Fayre as well as keeping an eye on our group accounts. I know Jean would want me to add here that she does get welcome helpful support particularly on the day of the Fayre, but no words of mine could say how grateful we all are to her for her marvellous effort which are invaluable and just so much appreciated.