Gearing up for the Christmas festival in Hucknall

Rotarians, Terry Moult, Robert Copley, Andrew Stone and Allan Johnson with the Christmas sleigh which has been refurbished with new lighting thanks to Hucknall's Oshino Light Ltd.
Rotarians, Terry Moult, Robert Copley, Andrew Stone and Allan Johnson with the Christmas sleigh which has been refurbished with new lighting thanks to Hucknall's Oshino Light Ltd.
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Hucknall’s Christmas Festival takes place on the Market Place on Wednesday, December 7, with a stage, a skating rink, stalls and a range of local entertainers.

But preparations for the extravaganza begin almost 12 months earlier, when event managers Andrew Stone and Allan Johnson from Hucknall Rotary Club meet to see what can be improved upon.

“It builds during the year,” said Andrew. “We try and get as many groups on to the stage as we can. We try and make it as community-based as possible. It comes from Hucknall. The more people come on board, the better it is.”

Between 3,000 and 4,000 people attend the annual show, which is funded by Ashfield District Council who organise the market, put up the stage and this year will set up the skating rink.

On the night around 20 Rotarians will be working behind the scenes to make sure everything goes off without a hitch.

The £2 tickets for the skating rink will go towards next year’s festival. As usual there will be a Christmas market at the John Godber Centre from 5pm to 9pm, and Torkard Ensemble will perform at the Central Methodist Church at 7pm.

Sanata arrives at 6.30pm and this year the lights will be switched on by Olympic gymnasts Becky and Ellie Downie, followed by music, festive songs and a special guest.

Andrew has been involved with Rotary for 22 years and remembers when the festival was run by the Hucknall Chamber of Trade and featured a “modest” parade and carols under a Christmas tree.

“Seventeen years ago Hucknall Rotary took over. We introduced the stage and the fun fair and the parade which came up from Tesco.

“That carried on until last year when we couldn’t do it any longer. We had 60 people closing roads. It became too dangerous.

“It was too much, so last year it was down-sized. We got rid of the parade and the fun fair which upset a lot of people. But it meant we didn’t have to do road closures. We still wanted to do something and do it well.”

Andrew says the event is now more of a festival: “It had been the same format for 15 years and you have to change things. Next year we will improve it again. When the High Street is pedestrianised, we might be able to expand.”

As well as meetings with ADC, Andrew says he is “talking to people all the time. We’re always open to new ideas so we can move it forward.”

Andrew, 60, retired this year after running Ken Burrows Electrical Contractors, on Ogle Street. The firm was founded 98 years ago and Andrew spent 45 years there.

A rotarian for 25 years, he lives in Sutton but says “I know Hucknall far more than I know Sutton!”

He said: ”It’s not just me - a lot of people put a lot of work into it.”