Bringing the festive spirit back to Bexhill

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There was a distinct lack of Christmas cheer in Bexhill last December.

The town’s festive lights left a little to be desired while the town’s tree in Devonshire Square was branded ‘pitiful’, ‘embarrassing’ and even ‘not worth vandalising’ due to its lacklustre lights and bare branches.

But proud Bexhillian and Christmas fan Mick Matthews is on a mission to make the town sparkle this yuletide.

Mick said: “The last few years have been atrocious with the Christmas lights, no late night shopping or anything.”

But Mick intends to turn the tide of festive fatigue and aims to transform Bexhill into a winter wonderland.

Working with The Festive Lighting Company, Mick has already seen his vision for the town laid out in a series of mocked-up images.

One shows an illuminated ‘Welcome to Bexhill’ sign at the end of London Road. Another depicts twinkling lights zig-zagging over the heads of shoppers in Western Road.

And Mick wants to spread the joy even further, with plans for decorations in Sea Road, Wickham Avenue, Town Hall Square ,Devonshire Road, Sackville Road and St Leonards Road.

The lights will cost a cool £60,000 - but Mick is confident the community will rally together to hit that target.

Mick says he has raised £6,000 in just three days.

Prestige Stairlifts showed it was positively bursting with Christmas spirit by donating £2,000 to the cause.

Other traders have agreed to give sums between £10 and £300, while Mick has put up £1,000 of his own money.

He has been in talks with Rother District Council and plans to apply to RDC for a £15,000 grant.

Mick said: “I have not seen hardly any of the shops yet.”

“I’m going to go to nursing homes and rest homes and everywhere I can.”

Mick has approached local schools to ask them to hold a mufti day for the cause and he also plans to invite the De La Warr Pavilion to get onboard.

The team behind the drive to bring Bexhill’s sparkle back is called Shining Lights.

The name came to Mick when speaking to the mother of the late Michaela McAvoy, who had progeria.

Mick said: “I met Liz and she said she always saw her as a shining light. And I thought that was a lovely thing to say.”

As well as lighting up Bexhill, Mick is also planning a late night shopping event on December 4.

The theme will mark the 70th anniversary of VE Day and all traders will be encouraged to display a Christmas tree in thanks to the veterans who fought for our freedom.

In 1945 Britain enjoyed the first Christmas without a blackout since 1938.

Mick is in the process of setting up a public meeting and is encouraging people to come along and get involved.

Mick said: “This is a chance to make Christmas something special for everyone in Bexhill and for the community to work together for something they want.”

* The bank details to donate to Shining Lights are: HSBC, sort code 40-10-14, account number 81520318.

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