CLINKING coins will be jingling all the way for Morpeth Christmas lights as a new appeal gets under way.
The Buy A Bulb campaign is running in 14 shops and businesses throughout the town to raise funds for this year’s festive light display.
The bulk of funding, around £28,000, is provided by Morpeth Town Council, with the Morpeth and District Chamber of Trade usually contributing £3,500.
But for this year only the business group has had to forego its donation after its funds were cleared out in an alleged theft.
However, the group was still keen to continue its traditional association with the lights, which the chamber first introduced almost 50 years ago, so members have set to work organising the appeal.
Member Ken Stait, who suggested the campaign, said: “We want to support the town council in its endeavours to put on a really good Christmas lights display and it is very important from the traders’ point of view because it brings a lot of people to the town.
“The chamber started the Christmas lights in 1963, it used to buy them and put them up, so we have a long standing involvement with them, and as with Britain In Bloom it is something that sets Morpeth apart from other towns.
“We have put the tins out now so hopefully people will be able to see where they are and donate.”
It was a difficult decision for the chamber not to provide its own financial contribution to the displays, and several members were eager to commit cash.
However, Treasurer David Lodge advised against the move, saying the group still needs to build up its funds following the loss of almost £20,000 from its accounts in the suspected theft.
Chairman John Beynon said: “It is an unfortunate position that we find ourselves in, but it was out of our control.
“We thought that rather than doing nothing we would like to try to raise money this way.
“We will also be giving contributions in other ways, hopefully by having a Saturday Christmas Market and helping as much as we can with manpower on the switch-on day.
“We are also organising the Christmas tree, which the chamber always does.
“We have put the collection boxes in the shops now. They have only been out a few days, but there seems to be a good response from the public.”
Morpeth Town Council Clerk Gillian Turner said: “We recognise the problems the Chamber of Trade has had this year and we are fully behind its fund-raising, not only for the Christmas lights, but for other initiatives as well. It is one of our main partners for various projects in the town and we support it. I think the appeal is a brilliant idea.
“At the Christmas lights switch-on event we have on-street collections, which go towards the repair of the lights, and people are always supportive.”
Buy A Bulb collection tins can be found at Stait Photography, Newgate News, Martins the Butchers, Cube, La Bodega, Central Bean, Glentons, Costa Coffee, The Electrical Wizard, Pizza Express, Bin 21, Osborne’s Jewellers, Kayola’s Deli and Morpeth Comrades Club.