Published: 15:44, 25 November 2020
| Updated: 15:51, 25 November 2020
A café worker is fighting to save Christmas in West Malling, after discovering the town's festive lights are to be axed this year.
Usually businesses chip in for a switch-on event organised by the chamber of commerce, but the organisation said it had made the difficult decision not to ask for the funds due to the financial climate, brought about by the pandemic.
Determined not to let shoppers miss out on festive cheer, Hannah Rose, the manager of Rose's Coffee and Juice, in Swan Street has started a campaign to raise the £10,000 needed.
The 23-year-old, whose brother Marcus opened the café 10 weeks ago, said: "After overhearing and having conversations with locals day in and day out in the shop, we were so warmed by people’s readiness to donate themselves we decided to just go ahead and try something.
"I contacted the chamber of commerce and had a meeting to check feasibility, time scales and what we would need to raise to make it happen.
"The GoFundMe page was launched a matter of hours later and here we are."
In less than 24 hours nearly £2,000 had been raised.
Julia Smith the secretary of the Chamber of Commerce said: "Historically it has always been local businesses that have funded the lights and because of all the lockdowns and the huge loss of revenue that everyone has had, it was unrealistic to ask people to contribute.
"It was a tough decision but we just felt it wasn't right to ask people to do that which is why the lights haven't gone up.
"There is a sadness in the community because it really does transform West Malling.
"For Hannah to take this on is incredible, and I do feel optimistic we will reach that target and this will happen."
Any excess funds will be used to reinvest into next year’s Christmas events in the town.
The first £5k, which is enough to give the display the go ahead, is needed as soon as possible. The remaining balance is needed by January.
Miss Rose added: "This community is second to none, the support we have had since opening is overwhelming and we just wanted to try and give back to the community that has been here for us, rain or shine, through such a strange time.
"Everyone has gone above and beyond to help support the fundraiser, it's a real community effort.
"People know that Christmas this year will be very different to what we’re used to, so the lights will help to draw together peoples spirits and light up the town in so many ways.