Diocese of ChichesterDiocese of Chichester

Community not to be defeated by theft of tree lights.

Community not to be defeated by theft of tree lights.

An annual Christmas light up event in the heart of Burgess Hill was nearly cancelled after thieves stole the Christmas tree lights.   The traditional lighting up of the tree outside St John's Church was temporarily put on hold but after just one week, the local community rallied round so the event could go ahead. “Messages of support and donations flooded in so that we reached over £2800 in the space of just one week, ” said Fr Kevin, Vicar of St John’s Church. 'Clearly, the people of Burgess Hill were determined not to be defeated by the theft and responded magnificently'.

“Topped by a shining star, the tree has more lights on it than ever before, perhaps even three times as many,” “The one sadness is that now the lights have to be protected by CCTV, but that is a small blip in an otherwise heart-warming and inspiring story. We hope that the tree will gladden the hearts of the people of Burgess Hill, as they celebrate Christmas across the town this year and for years to come.”

Prayers were said, carols were sung and many mince pies and hot punch consumed. The climax of the service came when everyone clustered around the tree outside St John’s, sang the traditional carol ‘O Christmas Tree’ accompanied by members of Mid Sussex Brass Band, and then counted down 3-2-1 to light up the tree.

The replacement has most certainly been a community effort, Gallagher's Funeral Directors continued their support, Stuart Jackson volunteered his electrical services, the cherry picker was donated by Facelift, TL Carr supplied the lights at a large discount – there were generous donations from Tom Welfare, Steve Willis Training, Burgess Hill Town Council, Burgess Hill Lions and advice and assistance from Burgess Hill Round Table, plus many donations from people around the town.

The lights will be on every evening until early January.