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Gloucestershire Business News

Tree of Light set to be biggest ever

Where: Outside Gloucester Guildhall, Eastgate Street

When: Saturday, November 24, from 2pm

The Rotary Club of Gloucester's Tree of Light is set to be switched on tomorrow (Saturday) at 4.30pm following an afternoon of entertainment.

The 40-foot high fir tree will take pride of place outside Gloucester Guildhall in the heart of the city centre.

The tree will be switched on at 4.30pm by Father Christmas, the Mayor, Rita the Mock Mayor of Barton and our club president Chris Soane following a noisy procession through the city.

A full afternoon's entertainment is planned at the tree from 2pm with choirs, singers, dance groups and, of course, the Salvation Army Band.

The Tree of Light gives people the opportunity to display a message for family and friends or commemorate a loved one at Christmas time. You can sponsor a message to a loved one that will be placed on the tree by donating. The target this year is to raise £10,000 for local charities.

Martyn White, chairman of the Tree of Light organising committee, said: "This is our eighth year. Like any other similar idea it has taken time to catch on but the momentum has gathered and it's now an expected part of Gloucester's Christmas celebrations.

"This year's tree is 10 feet higher than ever at 40 feet tall with more than 10,000 lights. Located where it is, it gives a real city centre focus for Christmas-time and attracts support from many of Gloucester's different communities.

"As always all of the money stays local. We're supporting two local charities, James Hopkins Trust, which is the charity supported by this year's Mayor, Councillor Joanne Brown, an honorary Rotarian for her year in office, and Charlie's Community Cancer Support and Therapy Centre."

Charlie's is a friendship group for all those in Gloucester affected by cancer - with and post cancer, bereavement, illness, remission and recovery.

James Hopkins Trust is a very well-known Gloucester charity providing nursing respite care for  Gloucestershire's life limited and life threatened young children.

The balance will be shared between the Rotary Club of Gloucester's Kids Out project and Community Awards Scheme.

Martyn added: "Our Kids Out team organises, with the support of many other local Rotary Clubs, an annual day out at Cattle Country in Berkeley for disabled and disadvantaged youngsters. Typically we host 800 to 900 children plus their carers and assisting Rotarians and it's a magical day for all concerned.

"The Community Awards Scheme operated by the four Rotary Clubs in Gloucester jointly to support dozens of small organisations with much-needed funding.

"The magic of Twitter and Facebook has been very powerful for us this year and our poster has been seen by many thousands of followers so hopefully some will donate to the project.

"We have had great support from local businesses with over 80 supporting us with sponsorship of the banners surrounding the tree. Around £6,000 has been raised from these banners and our total target is £10,000.

"We've had tremendous support, as always, from the City Council, Marketing Gloucester, the Guildhall and others and we look forward to being able to help a lot of local people as a result."

Members of the public can donate either by throwing money into the collectors' buckets or writing their own message on a white ribbon to be tied to the tree. They can also visit the website www.treeoflight.co.uk  to donate.

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