STOWMARKET burst into light on Friday as the crowds turned out for the big lights switch on.
It was also the evening for the lighting up of 200-plus Christmas trees in St Peter and St Mary’s Church and the launch of the latest fund-raising push for the John Peel Centre for Creative Arts.
Sheila Ravenscroft, John’s widow, switched on the town lights as crowds filled the High Street and music was played by the Salvation Army.
Penguins, a jazz band and ukelele band added a festive atmosphere and Santa made a guest appearance.
Shops stayed open late and there were charity stalls in the market place
BBC Radio Suffolk’s Lesley Dolphin switched on the Christmas trees in the church as visitors packed in to admire the displays.
And Stowmarket Carnival princesses Debbie Greeves and Fern Margetson presented donations of almost £1,000 to four charities including Dream Flights and the Police Benevolent Fund.
With the announcement last week that the John Peel Centre has been awarded £500,000 funding to enable it to move forward with Phase 3 of the project, the night also saw the launch of a ‘crowdfunding’ project.
Between now and Christmas Day the centre committee is asking the people of the town to take part in raising £25,000.
People are invited to make pledges of between £10 and £1,000 to receive tickets for the centre and a brand new video made by John Peel.
This has been created by Eye Film and TV which worked with Sheila to produce the video which helped secure the Biffa funding for Phase 3.
Each supporter will in turn have their name etched into the fabric of the centre which has been created in the former Corn Exchange in Church Walk.
John Spitzer, chairman of the JPCCA, said: “The Biffa funding is a huge kick start to make the centre as bespoke and top notch as possible but we will be continuing fund-raising well into the future.”