Amazing support for Ripon Christmas festival in new location

Jennifer Chambers with her sons Toby and Henry (1812082AM4)
Jennifer Chambers with her sons Toby and Henry (1812082AM4)

It’s been a big year for Ripon in so many ways, and now the city is rounding off 2018 in style with a packed programme of festive events.

Back by popular demand but with a new location, Ripon’s Christmas tree festival drew impressive crowds at the weekend, and its success is down to the hard-working volunteers at St Wilfrid’s Catholic Church.

The main organisers of the festival, Barbara and Bill Cross.

The main organisers of the festival, Barbara and Bill Cross.

More than 20 Ripon charities, schools and community groups entered their beautifully-decorated trees for the festival - each one with a powerful message representing what their organisation is all about.

The Town Hall made a stunning setting for the Christmas trees to be showcased, and the festival was buzzing throughout the three days. Jennie Eyres and her six-year-old daughter Eva were among the visitors streaming into the Town Hall on Saturday morning.

Blown away by everyone’s efforts, Jennie said: “The festival’s got a lovely community feel to it. It’s the messages behind them - they’re not just decorated with baubles, each of them has got a meaning and a really good message behind it.”

Eva was among the pupils who helped to decorate the winning tree from St Wilfrid’s Primary School, which had a very moving Armistice Day theme. She said: “It’s important to remember the sacrifices that people made, because they did it for us.”

A selection of the stunning trees on display at Ripon Town Hall.

A selection of the stunning trees on display at Ripon Town Hall.

Lesley Whitehouse, who was visiting Ripon for the weekend from the West Midlands, said: “Each group has put their heart and soul into doing this. It’s very Christmassy and in the moment, with Christmas just around the corner.”

For Lauren Fairless, it was the uniqueness of the trees that made the event stand out.

She said: “I like how they have been decorated, they are all different and unique. It’s a great way of advertising the different groups and organisations we have in Ripon.”

St Wilfrid’s Primary School was crowned the overall winner of the competition, and second prize went to Ripon Community Walled Garden. Middle of the Road was awarded third place.

Elspeth Raw and her grandma Julia Raw at the festival. (1812082AM)

Elspeth Raw and her grandma Julia Raw at the festival. (1812082AM)

Main organisers Bill and Barbara Cross said they hope the festival has made a difference in the community - bringing people together and continuing the extraordinary community spirit demonstrated by Ripon in commemorating the centenary of the end of the First World War.

The festival was a huge success at St Wilfrid's Catholic Church last year, and Bill and Barbara hoped its move to the Town Hall would make it even more of a go-to attraction.

Barbara said: "By having it in the Town Hall, it is getting closer to the community of Ripon. We are on the community's doorstep."

The Ripon organisations taking part included: Ripon YMCA; Ripon Royal British Legion; Ripon Toy Library; Jennyruth Workshops; Ripon Workhouse Museum; Saint Michael’s Hospice; Macmillan Cancer Support; Ripon fire and rescue; Evolve; Dementia Forward; 6th Ripon Guides; Holy Trinity Junior School, and The Art Lab.

Abigail York at the festival. (1812082AM3)

Abigail York at the festival. (1812082AM3)

The festival was rounded off with a spectacular concert by the St John Fisher school choir at St Wilfrid's Catholic Church on Sunday night.