Lee businesses get in the spirit with competition

HMS Victory and the Mary Rose Museum from the air     Picture: Shaun Roster

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BUSINESSES in Lee-on-the-Solent are competing to see who has the best Christmas spirit – all in the name of charity.

The Lee Business Association (LBA), led by co-ordinator Rick Barter, has challenged its members to display their seasonal side in any way they choose, contributing to a pot of cash that will be given away to charity.

The winner of the event, picked by three non-retail judges, will choose which charity the cash will go to.

The judges will decide who has won on Friday, December 7 – the day the Lee Christmas lights will be switched on.

Mr Barter, who runs The Book Shop in Lee High Street, said the LBA usually hosted large Christmas functions, previously including firework nights and hog roasts, but this year he wanted the association to help charity.

He said: ‘When you have an evening like this that’s really community-focused I think the shops try to outdo themselves.

‘They do something special for the evening, whether it’s decorations, or sparkly lights.

‘We thought, why not take that natural tendency that the shops have and see if we can turn that around.

‘You read in the paper all the time things like Gosport food bank is short, so this Christmas let’s try and do something other than what we’ve always done.’

This is the first year that the LBA has put on such an event and will see shops in the High Street, Milvil Road, Marine Parade and Pier Street decorated, flaunting their seasonal charm.

But decorations are only part of the competition, as the shops have been challenged to think of innovative new ways of displaying their Christmas spirit.

Mr Barter hopes that members of the LBA will be generous in their donations to the yet-to-be decided charity, which will be known when the winner is announced on Saturday, December 8.

He said: ‘We’re trying to do this to help charity.

‘We really wanted to do something different, to respond to the feeling that maybe this isn’t the time to splash cash.

‘What better way to celebrate Christmas than to raise money for a good cause.

‘It has an enormous sense of community, it gives us, as the local traders here, the opportunity to reinforce our commitment to the community.’