THE crowds showed up for Whitchurch on Saturday as the town’s Christmas lights were switched on by two very important people.

The town’s mayor Councillor Andy Hall was joined at the podium by the 2023 Citizen of the Year Paul Jenkins, who attended in full uniform to reflect his role with Whitchurch Army Cadets.

The streets were packed with stalls and events, with a parade through the town with lanterns, with Cllr Hall absolutely delighted with the turnout and the day’s success given the recent RAAC crisis and its impact on the town.


“What a fantastic turnout to one of our biggest events of this year,” he said.

“Perhaps made even more fantastic in that we overcame the current challenges in the Civic Centre, when plans had to significantly change in the weeks leading up to the event.

Whitchurch Herald: People walk around the Bullring in Whitchurch. People walk around the Bullring in Whitchurch. (Image: Anthony Photography.)

“Huge thanks, once again, to everyone who helped to make the event happen...there are so many we can't name them all, but each one is equally important.

“I particularly want to thank the guys in our facilities team, who worked from well before dawn to well after dark to set up the event, including the ‘Winter Light Market’ – which was presented in conjunction with our friends at Blackberry Fair.

Whitchurch Herald: A bed of lanterns in High Street. A bed of lanterns in High Street. (Image: Anthony Photography.)

“The performances from community groups went down a storm and we are very grateful that Barratt Homes and David Wilson Homes supported the activity, which allowed for the brilliant staging on the High Street.

Whitchurch Herald: The crowds wait for the lights switch-on. The crowds wait for the lights switch-on. (Image: Anthony Photography.)

“A brilliant afternoon for the whole community – not necessarily the way we initially planned it, but with everyone’s helped we proved that Whitchurch is, indeed, stronger together.”

Whitchurch Herald:

Cllr Hall was full of praise for Mr Jenkins who was named as the town’s top citizen for 2023, meaning he was able to push the button to switch the lights on.

He added: “Paul has volunteered as detachment commander with Whitchurch army cadets for more than 12 years.

Whitchurch Herald: The lantern parade. The lantern parade. (Image: Anthony Photography,.)

“His work includes supporting Duke of Edinburgh Awards, training and testing first aid, the annual poppy selling and the Remembrance Sunday parade.

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“Paul is due his long service medal in recognition of his hard work and commitment.”

Thanks were also awards given to people who made the shortlist for the Citizen of the Year including Whitchurch’s very own pirate Guy Hepworth.

The town’s lantern parade was also well-supported.