Village News

Christmas Lights

221210 | Cornwall's favourite Christmas lights in Angarrack could be switched off forever

Cornwall's favourite Christmas lights in Angarrack could be switched off forever

A lack of volunteers means the popular village display which takes over two months to create may have to stop

Angarrack's Christmas lights are in danger of being switched off forever
Angarrack resident Chris Bray attends to one of the many Christmas lights in the village (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

It's the village that is sleepy for 11 months of the year but comes alive in December as thousands descend to see its stunning Christmas lights. However, the Twelve Days of Christmas could be numbered in Angarrack, near Hayle.

Alongside the lights at Mousehole harbour, Angarrack's incredible festive effort is renowned for being the best Christmas display in Cornwall, thanks to a hardy bunch of volunteers.

But festive fans who visit Angarrack each year from all over the Westcountry will be alarmed to hear that the lights are in danger of going out forever. Of the village's 300 residents, there are only around 15 volunteers who keep the massive Christmas operation going - and only a few of those are physically able to construct the scaffolding and hang the lights. The 11 pipers display alone is 20m wide and almost 10m tall.

 

               Read more: Top Cornish TripAdvisor pub the Angarrack Inn goes on sale

 

The organisers told CornwallLive there is a very real prospect that the display will have to end - and that could be as early as next year, as they are desperate for younger volunteers to carry on their good work.

Indeed, a poster in the middle of the village reads: "Your village needs you! Many hands make lights work."

Chris Bray is one of a team of four volunteers who spend the two months before December putting the lights up. On top of that, he tests every single bulb in a workshop at his home in the village and has done for 21 years.

He said: "Unless we get more people to help the lights will finish. The ages of the team who put them up are 73, 71, I'm 60 and the youngest is 56. We're both the young boys. We definitely needs some youngsters in the village to volunteer otherwise this will all stop.

"It used to take four days to put them all up, but now it's two months. It would be great to get back to those days again. There is concern in the village that we'll have to stop doing the lights, which is a real shame."

Angarrack Christmas lights usually put on a display to celebrate the Twelve Days of Christmas - this one is Twelve drummers drumming
 Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)
 
The twelve drummers may have to stop drumming if more volunteers don't come forward (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

The lights and their upkeep are paid for by donations from visitors, collected in buckets on the evenings throughout December when they are illuminated.

"People say they haven't got time to help, but they choose to do something else. There are lots of youngsters living in Angarrack now - it's definitely not a retirement village. It's them that should be helping.

"It would be sad if the Christmas lights ended in Angarrack - it's a tradition that's been happening for 38 years. I think it's between Mousehole and us, which have the best Christmas lights in Cornwall. They have the backdrop of the harbour, but I think our lights are better.

"There's great community spirit in Angarrack, we just need more people to help with the lights. It's a wonderful village - it's safe, kids can play on the streets and our local cornershop is M&S - not many places can say that," added Chris, meaning the shopping centre on the nearby A30. He added that unless more volunteers put themselves forward it could be as early as next year that Angarrack would be without its famous displays.

Angarrack's Christmas lights are in danger of being switched off forever
 Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)
 
'Many hands make lights work'. A call for help with Angarrack Christmas lights (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

Nikki Vincent has been the chairman of Angarrack's Christmas lights committee for around seven years and was treasurer before that. She agrees with Chris that unless they get more local people lending support, the annual celebration will have to end.

She said: "If we don't get more help we will get to the point that we will be unable to put the lights on. If we turned around one year and said we can't do it because we haven't got the manpower, there would be uproar. There are a lot of people that could come and help that don't."

She was quick to thank residents who did help with this year's lights. "We were still out at 8pm on the Friday night putting lighting strings up just before switch-on. That was due to a mixture of the weather being against us this year and the lack of help."

There are seven members on the committee and a further eight to ten villagers who help out. "If people spared an hour or two one Saturday, for instance, it would really make a difference," she added.

As well as the Twelve Days displays, there are a number of reindeer, stars, angels, trains plus several large frames of lights. "I'd hate to think how many bulbs there are," said Nikki. "They all have to be put up on scaffolding poles, cable tied and electronically tested. Bless him, Chris spends four weeks testing them. It's a really big job.

"I don't think that people who come to look at them understand how much works goes into it. We have six meter boxes in the village we have to pay a daily rate for all year, even though they're only used for a month."

 Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)
 
Seven swans a-swimming (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

Nikki added: "To ensure the survival of the Christmas lights we need more people to manually help.

"At the end of the day, when people say how gorgeous the lights are or how it's always been a family tradition to visit that makes all the hard work worth it."

However, not everyone in Angarrack is quite so keen on the lights, or, rather, not so keen on the number of people they attract.

Dan Amos, who has lived in the village for ten years, said: "It's a bit of a nightmare after 5.30pm during December as you cannot go anywhere. It's pretty disruptive. It can take you about 25 minutes to get in or out of the village and then you get looks from people walking through as if to say 'what are you doing?'.

"Drivers are told at the entrance of the village that they cannot park, but people don't pay attention. Maybe there could be a park and ride at the rugby club? Nothing has evolved in that respect."

Angarrack's Christmas lights are in danger of being switched off forever
 Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)
 
Angarrack resident Dan Amos taking his dog Ziggy for walk in the village (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

Dan cited an incident on December 22 last year when someone parked on the hill by the Angarrack Inn and forgot to put their handbrake on. The car rolled down the road and wrote of his wife's car. "If the car hadn't been there to stop it, who knows what could have happened?"

He stressed that community spirit is great in Angarrack and "everyone is really friendly". "The demographic is changing - there are a lot more younger people living here now. The pub is very much the hub of the village. It's got an excellent reputation for food and gets really busy in the summer."

There's change afoot at that village hub too. The pub, which is No 1 out of 43 restaurants in the Hayle area on reviews website TripAdvisor, is up for sale for £575,000 as landlord Billy Quitco wants to move on for personal family reasons.

 

 

via https://www.cornwalllive.com/news/cornwall-news/cornwalls-favourite-chri...

Angarrack resident Chris Bray attends to one of the many Christmas lights in the village (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)
The twelve drummers may have to stop drumming if more volunteers don't come forward (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)
Many hands make lights work'. A call for help with Angarrack Christmas lights (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)
Seven swans a-swimming (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)
Angarrack resident Dan Amos taking his dog Ziggy for walk in the village (Image: Greg Martin / Cornwall Live)

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