‘Now our tree is something to be proud of’

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IT was mocked by critics as being an embarrassment, but now –thanks to a community effort – it looks fantastic.

People from Leigh Park came out in force to transform the Christmas tree in Park Parade.

Mandy Reeves, Hayley Charles and Samantha Bradbury with tinsel for the precinct Pictures: Vernon Nash

Mandy Reeves, Hayley Charles and Samantha Bradbury with tinsel for the precinct Pictures: Vernon Nash

The event, held on yesterday, was made possible by members of the community who donated hundreds of Christmas decorations.

Among those getting stuck in were Daryl Woods, 34, and his two daughters Imogen and Lilly.

Mr Woods said: ‘It’s been wonderful to get out with the kids and help the community. This is what Christmas is all about.’

The congregation of Leigh Park Baptist Church cut its service short to visit Park Parade and pledge its support.

Catherine Sweatman and Ann Parker put up decorations

Catherine Sweatman and Ann Parker put up decorations

Reverend Kathryn Orr, 29, who spent the morning decorating with her son Arthur, said: ‘If we can’t come out at Christmas time and spread Christmas cheer and spirit, then the church is doing something wrong.

‘Leigh Park gets bad press sometimes, but this effort is amazing to see. We were more than happy to help.’

Tracy Powell and her husband Derek run the nearby Time Out Cafe and were part of the team who volunteered their time to put up the tree in the first place.

As dozens of locals united to spruce it up and the surrounding precinct in response to a Facebook plea, Mrs Powell, 49, said: ‘What we’re seeing here is real and true Christmas spirit – it’s absolutely fantastic.

Rev Kathryn Orr with her son Arthur

Rev Kathryn Orr with her son Arthur

‘The backlash to the tree made the community feel really low.

‘I don’t think people realised it was the traders who put their hands into their own pockets to get it put up. We tried our best.

‘But we thought “we’re not going to let the haters get us down”. So we decided to decorate the whole precinct this time.

‘I would like to say a big thank you to every single person who came out to help.

‘You have hearts of gold and have shown real heart for Leigh Park.’