Saundersfoot held its Christmas lights switch-on over the weekend, but many businesses and locals have been asking where the rest of the Yuletide decorations and illuminations have gone?
Friday’s festive switch-on saw many turn out at the seaside village to enjoy pupils of Saundersfoot CP School entertaining everyone with their singing, whilst the Christmas lights were triggered into life.
With the focus on the Sensory Garden, where the Christmas tree stands and various other illuminations, including the festive ‘Welcome to Saundersfoot’ sign, it has been noticeable to many that the rest of the village seems a little bare, whereas in recent years, many travelling in the locality have made a special detour to see the seaside village lit-up at this ‘most wonderful time of the year’.
Ahead of the switch-on, Saundersfoot Community Council admitted that factoring in matters such as Saundersfoot Chamber for Tourism disbanding earlier this year, the lights would be scaled down somewhat.
Recently installed Chair of Saundersfoot Community Council, Cllr. Colin Evans explained: “As with many other organisations, Saundersfoot Community Council is going through a period of change and as such we wish to provide the community with an update.
“Earlier this year Saundersfoot Chamber for Tourism announced that, after many years of hard work, they were stepping back from organising events in the village. This includes the Christmas lights, the Christmas market, and the NewYear’s Eve fireworks display.
“Saundersfoot Community Council will continue to organise the Christmas lights in the Sensory Garden.
“As with all councils, we are facing increasing financial strain but will continue to do our best to work for the betterment of the community,” he added.
County Councillor or Saundersfoot’s south ward and chairman of the village’s New Year’s Day Swim, Cllr Chris Williams, like many others, took to social media to share their disappointment at the displays, stating: “With reference to Saundersfoot’s 2023 Christmas Lights, like many people within the community, The New Years Day Swim Committee also shares its disappointment that the village will not be displaying the array of lighting that we have all become accustomed.
“We recognise that without adequate funding and voluntary support, the village unfortunately won’t have Christmas lights this campaign. We applaud the wonderful work done previously by the many dedicated volunteers for many years,” he added.
With no New Year’s Eve firework planned either this year to welcome in 2024, landlady of the Hean Castle Inn Suzannah Palmer, has stepped in to try and save Christmas, by setting up a fireworks fundraiser and also rounding up fellow licensees and businesses to put their own festive light decorations up.
“Myself and Kim Pettifer have had a few meetings regarding Christmas Lights and NYE fireworks, and we wanted to share what we know and hope that it clarifies a few things,” said Suzannah.
“So as we are all aware in February this year, the Chamber for Tourism disbanded and with this their involvement with various events in the village have ceased, such as the cawl run, the Halloween trail, Christmas lights, NYE fireworks.
“I for one did not foresee the implications in this decision - that I know was not taken lightly - and took it for granted that someone would pick up the challenge and get on with it.
“In simple terms, the business are this year responsible for their own lights. We have looked at the cost of checking them, pat testing them, a cherry picker, a two-man team to put them up, and take them down, fuel cost, liability insurance, risk assessment and any parts that are required for lights that might not work.
“All in its approximately £13,000 which now and in the future is not economical for the village to fund, so we as businesses will need to do our own lights,” continued Suzannah.
“Going forward into next year I know a meeting will be taking place on January 25 and any businesses that haven’t been invited need to get in touch with Cllr Chris Williams and get the invite.
“Members of the public that want to help please sign up Saundersfoot Volunteers - it’s a simple form and then they send out invites when events come up asking if you are available going forward into next year this will be a valuable opportunity for everyone to get involved.
Suzannah has also set up a GoFundMe page for the New Year’s Eve fireworks, which has already reached over £600 of its £2,000 target.
“For the last 24 years, The Chamber of Tourism have done a fantastic job of organising our village events but sadly, as a consequence of them disbanding, nothing was organised, so I have taken the challenge and have managed to secure a professional firework company to do the display,” continued Suzannah.
“I have asked all the pubs and restaurants to donate but obviously the more I can raise the better. Any funds left over will go towards next year’s display so we aren't in this position again.”
Head to the following link to donate: https://gofund.me/7937e224