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Whitstable Christmas lights switch on event cancelled

By KentOnline reporter

Whitstable's Christmas lights switch-on event has been scrapped less than a week before it was due to take place after a fundraising appeal flopped.

The town's Chamber of Commerce had been attempting to raise a total of £25,000 - £19,000 covered the cost of the lights and installation with a further £6,000 for the switch-on celebrations.

National DJ Dev Griffin from BBC Radio 1 was due to perform the honours after he accepted the invitation live on air last weekend.

The event was pulled at a week's notice
The event was pulled at a week's notice

But it was announced tonight that the fundraising had not even covered the cost of the lights, let alone the switch-on festivities.

The Chamber of Commerce has raised funds for the event for the past three years after Canterbury City Council removed funding.

But it said the response to this year's event had been 'particularly poor', adding in a post on its Facebook page: 'Although the Christmas lights appear to be important to the people of Whitstable, very few people are prepared to contribute either time or money to fund the expense.'

The switch-on event was due to take place next Saturday, November 26.

Dev from BBC Radio 1 was due to turn on the town's Christmas lights
Dev from BBC Radio 1 was due to turn on the town's Christmas lights

The chamber's statement added: "We are thousands of pounds short of the amount needed to cover the cost of the lights, let alone the additional cost of the switch on event.

"The event itself is also dependent on being able to recruit volunteers to act as stewards to ensure it is run safely and in accordance with both council and insurer requirements. Again, this year we have struggled to get sufficient people to volunteers for these roles.

"We will continue to endeavour to raise the money to pay for this year’s lights, but we are unable to fund a switch on event.

"We are really sorry for the disappointment this will cause, and would like to say a particularly big thank you to those people who have given up their time to organise and fund raise this year.

"We still need to continue to raise money for the lights this year, which are already installed for this year’s Christmas period. The Lights are displayed for the benefit of the whole community and we would appeal to everyone to make a contribution."

Members of the Christmas lights committee had secured Dev for the switch-on after he complained about the lack of offers coming his way last week on his breakfast show.

On Saturday, he spoke to Yasmin Downee from the community committee.

“The date is now pencilled in. I humbly accept, so spread the word – Dev is heading for Whitstable,” he said.

“I’m hoping to get a big button to press, but either way, let’s make a day of it in Whitstable.”

Yasmin confessed on air that the committee had tried to get others beforehand but were unsuccessful.

“You weren’t the first – we tried to get Wolf from Gladiators and then Neil Buchanan from Art Attack but they couldn’t do it,” she said.

“On the day, there will be local carol singers from a choir and pubs will be doing mulled wine and there will be an arts and craft fair.”

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