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Star guests to turn on Christmas lights in Fortune Green

Imedla Staunton and Jim Carter to appear at annual celebration

29 November, 2019 — By Tom Foot

Imelda Staunton has switch-on duties next week

IMELDA Staunton and Jim Carter will be hoping for a little less drama when they switch on the festive lights in Fortune Green.

Last year’s event was almost called off after electricity cables were mysteriously sabotaged shortly before the big switch-on with Love Actually star Bill Nighy. An electrician had to be called after firefighters found freshly severed wires leading to the Christmas tree.

Milly Wheeler, from Mill Lane Garden Centre, said: “In the end it all turned out good, but it was very tense. We just couldn’t imagine why anyone would want to do it. We are hoping for a more peaceful event this year.”

The Beckford School Choir will be singing carols at the event, which raises funds for the garden centre that doubles as a haven for people mental health problems and learning difficulties who get training in horticulture, growing fruit and veg and confidence-building customer service.

The centre has already begun selling Christmas trees, with all profits going to the centre. Ms Wheeler said: “Following all the drama we had last year, we had the most successful year at Mill Lane. “We completely sold out of trees. It was really good and over the summer we had a lot more sales. “We have ordered the same number of trees for this year and the more we sell the more training and opportunity we are able to provide.”

Mr Carter, the Downton Abbey star, and Ms Staunton – who is widely tipped to replace Olivia Colman as the Queen in the next series of The Crown – will flick the switch from 6pm on December 7.


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