Let there be lights

PUBLISHED: 17:26 05 October 2006 | UPDATED: 10:57 06 May 2010

Light relief – Martin Burnside (right) and Christophe Perney, who is head chef at the new Gaffneys restaurant, at the Glass Centre owned by Mr Burnside

Light relief – Martin Burnside (right) and Christophe Perney, who is head chef at the new Gaffneys restaurant, at the Glass Centre owned by Mr Burnside

CHRISTMAS lights will shine brightly in Biggleswade and Sandy thanks to an appeal in The Comet. In August we exclusively revealed that Christmas could be grim in both towns because the local chambers of trade, which are responsible for the lights, feared

CHRISTMAS lights will shine brightly in Biggleswade and Sandy thanks to an appeal in The Comet.

In August we exclusively revealed that Christmas could be grim in both towns because the local chambers of trade, which are responsible for the lights, feared they would not be switched on because of a cash shortage.

Each chamber spends around £10,000 to make the centres in both towns festive.

The story prompted many businessmen and companies to dig into their pockets and this week both chambers thanked The Comet for highlighting their plight.

One reader was so disturbed by the story he contacted his local chamber in Sandy and immediately offered £5,000 towards the lights appeal.

"I read the story and felt I couldn't sit back and do nothing," said Martin Burnside, owner of the Gaffney's Restaurant in Bedford Road, Sandy, which is due to open soon.

"You can't have Christmas without lights and kids love them. Sandy would have been very dull this Christmas without lights in the town centre.

"We have all got to make a community effort and show community spirit and Christmas is the time of year when that spirit is needed which is why I offered to back the lights cash appeal with £5,000.

"It will bring a lot of smiles on a lot of faces when people are Christmas shopping in Sandy."

Local baker and chairman of Sandy Chamber of Trade David Gunns said the story helped highlight the cash crisis.

"The story has helped save the Christmas lights in Sandy this year," said Mr Gunns.

"It certainly got the message across that without more money from businesses we would be in trouble and the lights might not have gone up.

"We are extremely grateful to Mr Burnside and other companies who have come forward following the story.

"The lights will be switched on as normal but we still need more financial help to make sure we don't go through the same problem again next year."

Chairman of Biggleswade Chamber of Trade Martin Thomas also thanked The Comet saying: "The story started to stir people into action.

"We need £10,000 for the lights and we anticipate we have got enough pledged to make sure the lights go up.

"We are happy to take the chance even though we are £3,000 light compared to a year ago.

"Unfortunately it is the same companies who support us every year and we need more, especially the major stores in the town centre which do not get involved in local projects.

"We want to have enough money pledged so we will not be facing the same problem in a year's time.


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