6 benefits of volunteering: Volunteers Week

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It’s Volunteers’ Week (1-7 June) which celebrates all of the good work people make up and down the country to support causes and charities.  

Wickford is full of wonderful volunteers that help across various events and causes, from the Wickford Wombles and Rotary Club to sports teams, children’s clubs and charity initiatives.

Wickford’s Christmas activities are also run by volunteers. The Christmas high street lights display only gets put up and stored away each year because of a group of 12 individuals who give up their spare time all year to get funding and procedures in place.

They also organise the Wickford at Christmas Street Fair, which requires another group of Wickford residents to help on the day itself. Their tasks include setting up barriers; setting up stall holders in the high street; manning the activities; collecting money in the buckets and more. 

We’re always on the look out for more help.

Need some convincing? Here are some of the benefits of volunteering with us, although many apply to other volunteer roles too

It’s fun! The Christmas Street Fair kicks off the festive spirit in Wickford and it’s great to be a part of the team that pulls it off 

You meet new people. Not only are there other volunteers helping out who you’ll meet but you’ll be interacting with other Wickford residents  

You’re part of a community effort. It feels good to be part of something positive for our town  

Make a difference. Whatever task you do, you are helping put on a fantastic event and experience for the people of Wickford and any money raised helps us on our way to do the same next year  

Learn new skills and gain confidence. It might seem a little daunting but we’ll give you the training and enthusiasm needed to get out there and do the best you can 

It looks good on your CV. Adding a volunteering role makes you stand out and gives you extra experience to talk about 

Interested in volunteering with us?

Click here to join the Wickford at Christmas Volunteers Team Facebook page to find out more or email wickfordatchristmas@gmail.com.  

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Meet the Committee

Wickford volunteers work year-round to ensure our town’s Christmas lights display and street market take place. Tasks range from council paperwork, stall allocation and logistics to keeping track of funds, scheduling entertainment and preparing promotional material such as our programme and social media. Without them Wickford would have no Christmas lights display or event.

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Name: Eunice Brockman

WAC role: Chair

Day job: Company director/consultant

How long have you lived in Wickford? 16 years

What do you love most about Christmas? Food and drink, and seeing my family

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Name: Danielle Hunt

WAC role: Exhibitions manager

Day job: Director of a POS manufacturer

How long have you lived in Wickford? All my life!

What do you love most about Christmas? The Christmas spirit…and mulled wine

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Name: Alan Ball

WAC role: Lights management and event supervisor

Day job: Work for BT

How long have you lived in Wickford? 50 years

What do you love most about Christmas? Getting everyone together

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Name: David Harrison

WAC role: Programme preparation and lights management

Day job: Retired

How long have you lived in Wickford? 48 years

What do you love most about Christmas? Enjoying it!

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Name: Michael Stapleton

WAC role: Business liaison

Day job: Owner of Michael Frank Jewellers

What do you love most about Christmas? Christmas is one of my favourite times of year and my enthusiasm for the festive season is catching! I love Christmas decorating and being with my family.

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Name: Amanda Greenwood

WAC role: Social media and website

Day job: Marketing specialist

How long have you lived in Wickford? All my life

What do you love most about Christmas? Definitely all about food, family and friends! Christmas ham, pigs in blankets, lots of chocolate, Baileys…

Name: Linda Harrison

WAC role: Treasurer

Name: Andy Bartlett

WAC role: Arranging entertainment

Name: Peter Towler

WAC role: Volunteers management

Name: Michael Hill

WAC role: Business liaison

Name: Dawn Hutson

WAC role: Secretary

Name: Rosie Beecher

WAC role: Rotary Club liaison

Name: Michael Mowe


Want to do your bit and join our committee?

You might be a great salesperson who could help generate sponsorship from local businesses or you might be an enthusiastic fundraiser. Let us know what you could bring to the team!

We meet monthly on a weeknight and more often closer to the build-up to the street fair.

Get in touch! Email info@wickfordatchristmas.co.uk.

Your favourite Christmas window display

The votes are in!

Every year Wickford at Christmas encourages businesses in the high street to put a festive window display together.

We asked you, the Wickford residents, to vote for your favourite in our annual poll. Thank you to everyone that voted - here are the winners!

Bronze Award: Headlines

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Silver Award: Mem’s Kitchen

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Gold Award and Winner: Michael Franks Jewellers

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MAP: Wickford houses with great Christmas lights displays

We’ve scoured local Facebook groups and created the map below of houses in Wickford that have fantastic Christmas lights displays!

We don’t know the exact house numbers so have given a rough idea of where you should head to.

Click on the stars to find out the road names.

Financial update on Wickford’s Christmas lights

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Money for Wickford’s Christmas lights display and street fair comes from grants, business sponsorship, stall holders, charitable donations and public donations. Without this support the town would have NO lights and NO Christmas event.

Wickford at Christmas is a group of volunteers who give up a large amount of our own time throughout the year to ensure the lights are stored, get put up and to organise the Christmas street fair. We do this because we care about Wickford having a Christmas lights display and a street fair that brings together the community and brings a boost to our high street in the festive period.

We work with Essex County Council, Basildon Council, local businesses and many contractors to get the right paperwork in place, secure sponsorship and get the most out of our high street to bring you a festive community feel at Christmas. We hugely appreciate all those that have helped us so far including our sponsors, business supporters and all the wonderful volunteers who give up their time.  

We’re asked every year about why things are how they are – so here’s a little bit about finances, our progress and our future plans.

Wickford at Christmas was only formed in 2016

  • It was formed to keep the lights up year on year and hopefully improve them, as well as run the street fair

  • The cost of installing, running and removal of the 2016 lights was kindly covered by the now disbanded ‘Light Up Wickford’

  • That year Wickford at Christmas brought in £8,346.83 through donations, sponsorship, programme adverts, raffle tickets, etc and on the day we took £2,376.05

  • The cost of the 2016 event was £4,691.69 which left us at the end of our first year with £3,655.14

The event grew in 2017 helped by having money in the bank

  • Through sponsorship, donations, stall and advert costs we brought in another £11,266.35

  • It cost £7,883.91 to put on the 2017 event and the cost of installing, running and the removal of the lights in Wickford was £4,048, minus a £1,000 donation from Basildon Council towards the costs

New lights in 2018

With money raised from last year’s event we have bought 10 new light columns at a cost of £3,074 which are in the middle of the high street. 

All the other lights are those we have inherited and hope to improve over the next few years.

Some lights have not been put up this year after they failed health and safety checks.

2019 and beyond

At this year’s fair we raised £3,828 through the buckets and pots! We also raised money from the rides, chestnuts, collection boxes in shops and a Co-op grant as well as sponsorship and programme adverts.

It will cost approximately £15,500 to put up and store the lights and to run the event in 2019. To continue improving the lights we’d need to cover those initial costs then additional lights costs would be

How cross lights would look

How cross lights would look

  • New lamp-post festoons - £300+ per new fitting

  • Cross street display - £1,000+ and permission of all the high street landlords which can be challenging

  • Wall fitted displays - £108 one-off cost then £190-260 per display depending if it’s a Christmas tree, candles, snowmen etc, plus £130 to fit, remove and store each of these

You can quickly see the costs going up when you break it down!  

As we're a community-led initiative, and with these kinds of numbers, you can see why improving them is going to take some time.

It’s time to act! This is only possible with Wickford working together

There are thousands of adults in Wickford, if each one of them gave a £1, think what could be achieved!

Donate: online here, in several high street shops (see our Facebook page for the list) or on the day 

Business sponsor: If you’re interested in sponsoring or being involved next year, please email info@wickfordatchristmas.co.uk.

Programme adverts: Email wickfordatchristmas.adds@gmail.com if you would like to be in the programme next year.

Volunteer: Join this Facebook group if you want to help out on Sunday 24th November 2019 or at other times in the year.

Join the committee: Do your bit year-round. Email info@wickfordatchristmas.co.uk to find out more.

How our high street could look

How our high street could look

Essential information for Wickford at Christmas Street Fair

Amazing Mrs Claus at last year’s fair. Credit: Tina Wing Photography

Amazing Mrs Claus at last year’s fair. Credit: Tina Wing Photography

Not long ‘til the Wickford at Christmas Street Fair!

There are programmes around Wickford but if you’ve not seen one yet, here’s everything you need to know all in one place.

When: Sunday 25th November - this weekend!

Where: Wickford High Street

Entry: Free but donation encouraged to go towards Christmas lights and event

Time: 12-5pm. Catch the Christmas Opening Parade from 12pm! Santa, stilt walkers, characters and dancers will make their way from the station bridge down the high street.

Getting there: Walking is best but there are bus options! Some car parks will be closed. For road closure / travel information read our blog here

The hashtag: #wickfordatchristmas (we’re on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter!)

Santa’s Grotto: After the parade children can visit Santa in his grotto at Glicks Opticians

Reindeer: Read our statement on why reindeer are no longer at the event.

Stalls: There are more than 50 stalls with items from beer gift sets, Lego and log creations to Christmas decorations and bags. Click here to see the full list

Entertainment: Singing kicks off at midday – click here for Main Stage timings. There will also be performances in the Willows Centre, Halls Corner and the railway bridge. Stick around for carol singing at 4.30!

Games and challenges: There’s plenty of games on the stalls including the Essex Royals FC challenge, Santa Bell game, Lucky Numbers and a tombola on the Wickford at Christmas stall

Kid’s things to do: Children’s crafts are in Wickford Community Centre on Market Road and there are rides in the car park next to it!

Lost and found wristbands for children will be available on the Wickford at Christmas stall.

Food and drink: Chestnuts, donuts, sweets, cakes, hog roast, German sausage, mulled wine, beer, cocktails, prosecco and many more treats are all offered on the stalls

First Aid is near the railway bridge

Thank you to our Main Sponsor Michael Frank Jewellers and all the other businesses that have sponsored and supported the lights and event! There’s a blog about them here or you can see their names below :). A huge thank you to all the volunteers helping us on the day too and to all that have supported our efforts.

See you on the 25th November!

Our statement on reindeer at the street fair

Wickford at Christmas has decided to cancel the reindeer appearance at the Street Fair on 25th November. This has been a difficult decision for the committee to make as we know people love to see the reindeer and they are a big draw to visiting the market.

However, there have been many stories in the press recently about the treatment of reindeer in centres and as this is currently a delicate matter we had to carefully consider the welfare of the animals and safety of all those attending the event.

We hope you understand and we look forward to seeing you on Sunday where we will still have a fantastic event with Santa’s Grotto, 50+ gift, food and drink stalls, entertainment in the high street and Willows Centre, children's rides, crafts and more.