The Christmas countdown in Woodley has begun as hundreds of people turned out to watch the festive lights get switched on.
The event, held on Saturday, November 29, included carols and musical items sung by members of the Reading Operatic Society and from Woodley churches.
Flicking the switches were the winners of the 18th annual poster competition. Open to primary school children, more than 247 people entered the contest, but eight-year-old Nina Lees from Beechwood Primary School and nine-year-old Oi ka Vivien Wan from South Lake Primary School came first and second.
The ceremony was led by the Revd Martyn Neads, minister of Christ Church, who opened with a short reflection on the peace of Christmas.
“We can find in him [Jesus] true peace,” he said, reminding people of the events of the first Christmas.
Woodley Town Centre manager Jacques Lherbier praised the people who had made the light switch-on possible, including the Woodley and Earley Lions who had offered “great support”, Reading Operatic Society for their “wonderful singers”, Just Around The Corner (JAC) for “providing shelter … although we don’t need it tonight,” he joked.
He also thanks the Scouts for their help, Waitrose for providing mince pies and Lidl for provided Mulled Wine.
“Have a lovely time,” he concluded. “Hope you enjoy the [carol] concert and hope we see you next Sunday for the Winter Extravaganza.”
The President of the Woodley & Earley Lions, Jonathan Brindley, returned the compliment, thanking Jacques for his support, adding that the Lions were “very proud to take part in this event”.
Woodley Town Mayor Cllr Brian Franklin gave the final speech, and thanked everyone for coming.
“It’s so lovely to see so many you here tonight,” he said, adding that the evening was the result of “a lot of hard work and dedication” before encouraging the crowds to acknowledge their appreciation of the organisers by giving a round of applause.
He then welcomed Nina and Oi ka to flick the switches saying that “the object of tonight is to turn the lights on”.
With Woodley lit up, members of Reading Operatic Society launched into a passionate performance of Silent Night, before leading communal singing of carols such as O Come All Ye Faithful, We Three Kings of Orient Are, The Holly and the Ivy and ending with Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.
Now, the town is invited back for the Winter Extravaganza, which will be held on Sunday, December 7 from 11am. With street entertainment, stalls and more it promises to be a fun day for all the family.
For more on the fun day, click here.