Christmas has come early to Ryhope.
The schools may just be going back, but the village is getting in the festive mood after the planting of a new Christmas tree that will form the focus of the community’s annual celebrations from now on.
Residents’ group Ryhope Community Spirit raised more than £1,000 to buy the tree and is now fund-raising for new decorations.
“We’ve had a big tree on the village green for the last two years, which has been really popular,” said secretary Chris Hope.
“And we have brought in enough to buy a live tree now.”
Having a permanent tree meant the group could concentrate on fund-raising for other activities, said Chris.
We felt Ryhope was drifting apart and we wanted to do something to pull it back together. The response to the Christmas tree has been amazing - the people coming down have just loved it.Chris Hope
“We will not be trying to raise money every year to buy a tree any more. Now we have got a live tree, all we have to do is decorate it.
“The tree was over £1,000 - we just need to raise a bit more now for decorations.”
“There has never been a live Christmas tree on The Green before - we have got permission from the council and our ward councillor Alan Emerson has been fabulous.”
The new tree will form the centrepiece of the village’s Christmas lights switch-on: “Last year we had the switch-on and then a carol concert, this year we are having one big switch-on ceremony on December 1, and our local vicar David Chadwick will be there,” said Chris.
“This is the third year for Ryhope Community Spirit. We originally just wanted a Christmas tree on The Green, but it has snowballed and we’ve also had Easter Egg hunts and a Halloween party.
“We felt Ryhope was drifting apart and we wanted to do something to pull it back together. The response to the Christmas tree has been amazing - the people coming down have just loved it.”