The build up to Christmas will officially begin this Sunday as Banbury switches on its lights, kicking off a new-look Christmas event.
The focus will be on ‘local heroes’ and the Horton Hospital, and marks a change from previous years when TV celebrities would turn on the Christmas lights.
Chosen this year to flick the switch is fundraiser Kathleen Davis, 88, along with the support of Horton staff.
Mrs Davis has spent her life championing local charities including Katharine House, Bodicote Scouts and the Horton Hospital.
Mrs Davis said: “I can’t put an absolute figure on it but with help from my friends I think I’ve raised around £20,000 altogether. I do it by holding coffee mornings in my garden, raffles and by selling items I’ve made.”
Currently she is busy knitting Santa Claus dolls each containing a Ferrero Rocher chocolate to raise £250 for Katharine House Hospice.
Mrs Davis will switch on the town’s lights at 5pm at the town hall on Sunday, followed by the now annual firework display. The event has been organised by Banbury Town Council in association with Banbury Presents.
Speaking of the changes to this year’s event to an emphasis on local issues and deserving members of the local community, Cllr Colin Clarke, chairman of the council’s general services committee, said: “The switch-on will be a family occasion that will also pay tribute to the work that goes on at the Horton Hospital.
“The day will have a real Christmas atmosphere for people of all ages and we think the new line-up will appeal to everyone.”
Also featuring during the switch-on event will be a seasonal market, eight local choirs, workshops, a Santa’s Grotto and a funfair.
Oxford band the Mambo Panthers will also be present playing a mixture of Cuban, swing, jazz, and rock music.
The market will be open from 1pm to 8pm and will provide an ideal opportunity to find that unusual Christmas gift.
Cllr Clarke said: “It’s time now for a change and this year we’re planning a real Christmas atmosphere with carols, Santa and other seasonal happenings.
“We’re adopting a ‘local heroes’ theme and we’re pleased Kathleen Davis, a committed fundraiser for many good causes, has agreed to perform the switch-on.”