Villagers flock round their own Christmas tree for first time in decades

The Ryhope Village Christmas Tree on the village green, last night.

The Ryhope Village Christmas Tree on the village green, last night.

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VILLAGERS are finally flocking round their own Christmas tree after raising more than £3,000.

For the first time in decades, Ryhope village green has been spruced up with some festive fauna thanks to a community campaign.

Hundreds turned out to see Ryhope Village Christmas Tree lights switched on by the Mayor of Sunderland Coun. Stuart Porthouseand young Jack Watson.

Hundreds turned out to see Ryhope Village Christmas Tree lights switched on by the Mayor of Sunderland Coun. Stuart Porthouseand young Jack Watson.

In just five weeks, the residents of Ryhope have 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 so that it can be a focal point for festive activities.

More than 1,000 residents turned out this week to see the mayor of Sunderland, Coun Stuart Porthouse, officially switch on the lights.

Chris Young, from Ryhope Community Spirit campaign, said: “This campaign has really brought the whole community together. Everyone has been so excited by it and we already have plans for future trees and are getting stuck into plans for next year.”

David Selvy showing his 3 year old grandaughter Summer Selvy the Christmas Tree on Ryhope Village Green last night

David Selvy showing his 3 year old grandaughter Summer Selvy the Christmas Tree on Ryhope Village Green last night

In the lead up to Christmas Day, the tree will form the backdrop to carol services from local schools and bands, including the Ryhope All Stars Jazz band and the NASUWT band.

As part of the fund-raising, people have been buying clear baubles for the tree which they have filled with messages to loved ones and Christmas wishes.

“The whole idea behind the baubles was to make it the people’s tree and people have really taken it to their hearts,” said Chris.

He added: “I think around 1,500 came to see the lights switched on, I’ve never see the green so busy. I never ever expected that many people to come along, I shed a tear when I saw them all.”

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

The tree will form the backdrop to a series of carol concerts over the coming weeks. They are:

•St Paul’s School choir on December 11 at 10am.

•Ryhope Junior School choir on December 12 at `12.45pm.

•Ryhope Infant School Academy choir on December 17 at 2.15pm.

Bethany Buckley shows family friend Keisha Wilson (4) the Ryhope Village Christmas tree last night

Bethany Buckley shows family friend Keisha Wilson (4) the Ryhope Village Christmas tree last night

•St Patrick’s School choir on December 18 at 2.30pm.

•Ryhope All Stars Jazz Band and NASUWT band, as well as a visit from Santa, on December 21 at 5.30pm.

Kira Ross (left) and Bethany Buckley showing family friends, twims Karter and Keisha Wilson (4) the Ryhope Village Christmas tree last night

Kira Ross (left) and Bethany Buckley showing family friends, twims Karter and Keisha Wilson (4) the Ryhope Village Christmas tree last night

Hundreds turned out to see Ryhope Village Christmas Tree lights switched on by the Mayor of Sunderland Coun. Stuart Porthouse and young Jack Watson.

Hundreds turned out to see Ryhope Village Christmas Tree lights switched on by the Mayor of Sunderland Coun. Stuart Porthouse and young Jack Watson.