Christmas displays in St Leonards will have an extra sparkle this year after the Town Team scooped first prize in a national festive lighting competition.
The town picked up the top prize, worth £10,000, with Hastings coming third to claim £1,000.
“The town has begun to take Christmas seriously again over the last couple of years, with the arrival of new businesses, the launch of the Kings Road market, the installation of limited festive lighting on Kings Road and, most importantly, the advent of the brilliant Frost Parade, which offers a magical parade through the streets on the last weekend of November,” said Anton Burton, one of the main architects of the bid.
“This process allowed us to put all these elements together and scale things up, so we can really deliver a complete Christmas package that will offer shoppers something very distinctive, totally different and really special during the winter period.”
The Revive and Thrive Christmas Light contest, sponsored by Blachere Illumination, launched earlier this summer.
Towns across the UK were invited to send in their ideas to illuminate their major shopping areas and create a ‘more vibrant retail experience’ over the dark winter months.
Members of the St Leonards Town Team were delighted their original bid, put together by volunteers, got into the final round.
Just eight of 59 original entry teams were invited to the home of public illumination, Blackpool, to pitch their case to a panel of judges.
“We had 15 minutes to make our case, and decided to make a short video showing off our beautiful town and provide a voice for local people,” said Town Team secretary Virginia Vilela.
The film, which was shot to a tight timescale and edited by local trader Suzy Rann, offered statements of support from traders and MP Amber Rudd.
“It was hard work but really worth it,” said Suzy.
“We were the last team to present on judging day and it was totally nerve wracking but I think our passion for the town and research on what would work paid dividends on the day.”
The announcement St Leonards had won generated excitement on social media and team members were greeted by a welcoming committee of delighted residents and traders as they disembarked at Warrior Square station after a seven-hour journey.
Detailed conversations are now underway on the exact locations and specific design of the lights, which will culminate in a turning-on ceremony at the Frost parade on Saturday, November 28.
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