It’s been a difficult week for the BID (Business Improvement District) Camborne team. The Christmas tree their working group had chosen as a centrepiece for this year’s festivities had been pilloried nationally and locally for not only being ‘shabby’ but a contender, according to The Sun, for ‘the worst Christmas tree in Britain’ title.

All very dispiriting for a group of local people who, apart from the paid part-time BID manager, give up their precious time for free to help make the town a better place to work in and visit. Funded by businesses, part of the BID remit is to drive footfall to the town centre in the run up to Christmas. It’s a task the team take seriously and a quick look at the guide they’ve produced for this year’s festive programme shows just how much has been organised – including free parking, lights, reindeer, markets, regular entertainment and a free Santa’s Grotto.

Getting a tree is part of the process but choosing the right one isn’t as easy as it might sound. Real ones of the right size cost thousands of pounds once installation and disposal are taken into account. Which was why the group opted for an artificial tree that they thought looked good and, crucially, wouldn’t be easy to climb. Sadly the reality wasn’t quite what they’d imagined.

“When it went up, it’s true to say we were all disappointed as parts of it looked faded,” said BID Chair and local shop owner Sharron Lipscombe-Manley. “Looking back, I wish it could have just been put in place wrapped up and then revealed for the switch-on.”

Why? Because, despite all the controversy and, in some cases, abuse, the tree is transformed once lit up.

“I think we all heaved a huge sigh of relief when the countdown ended on Saturday and the lights were turned on,” said BID Manager Mel Martin. “Christmas trees are meant to be illuminated and this one is no different. It looks beautiful twinkling in the dark.”

Camborne is the first town in Cornwall to have officially switched on its lights and next Saturday, 25 November, Santa’s Grotto will open in Dylan’s Bear Necessities from 11am to 3pm.

“The Christmas tree saga hasn’t been pleasant but, with bigger crowds than usual for the switch-on, perhaps it’s true there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” said Mel.

The ugly duckling it seems has changed into a swan – when the lights are on at least.


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