Crowd-sourced Sunderland Christmas tree is Facebook success story

Twinkle and Sparkle, otherwise known as Corrine Kilvington (left) and Beth McAneny hanging memory baubles on the Ryhope Christmas Tree last night
Twinkle and Sparkle, otherwise known as Corrine Kilvington (left) and Beth McAneny hanging memory baubles on the Ryhope Christmas Tree last night
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A CHRISTMAS campaign which united a Wearside community has gone global.

The Ryhope Community Spirit campaign has been chosen to appear in Facebook Stories by those involved with the social networking giant.

The page, which has just under 2.5million followers, highlights examples of how Facebook can be a positive impact, bringing people together.

Led by Chris Young and Cris Watson Hope, the campaign saw the Ryhope community rally round to buy a Christmas tree for the village green, its first in decades.

About 1,000 people followed a Facebook page set up by the pair and in just five weeks the residents managed to raise £3,000 to pay for a Nordmann Fir tree to be transported from Kielder Forest.

Funds also paid to light the tree and for public liability insurance.

It’s since become a focal point for the whole community, bearing baubles with Christmas messages from Ryhope residents and forming the backdrop to carol services from local schools.

Chris said he was amazed to get an email from the office of Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg about highlighting the campaign.

He said: “I thought it was a wind up at first. I got an email from a lady who works in Mark Zuckerberg’s office. I thought it was one of the lads down the pub pulling my leg, but it turned out to be true.

“She said they’d been following the campaign closely and could they share it on the Facebook Stories page, which has a worldwide audience.”

“It’s amazing how the campaign has brought people together and captured people’s attention. I’ve had national press on the phone, they’ve said it’s nice to have positive story amidst all the doom and gloom.

“The amount of people who have come up to me in the street is amazing, but it’s not just me. We’re a committee of 12 with half a dozen volunteers also, who have come up with a host of fund-raising ideas.”

Ryhope Community Spirit has proved popular that committee members have now pledged to make the Christmas tree campaign an annual event.