Drama as 30ft Christmas tree crashes in ‘UK’s most festive village’ hours after lights come on
One of the biggest nights of the year in a Cheshire village turned into disaster – just hours after hundreds of people watched the Christmas lights come on.
A towering 9-meter festive tree has collapsed in picturesque Audlem, known for its festive decorations.
One of the most Christmas villages in the country, residents pay a voluntary annual membership fee for a dazzling array of festive lights.
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This includes 60 mini trees to adorn the walls of each store in the village.
The village’s big Christmas lights-on event attracts families from across the region. is the annual tradition.
But by 10 p.m. Storm Arwen had swept Audlem with high winds tearing the tree from the central village square where three main roads connect.
No one was injured when the tree collapsed and luckily a team of construction workers were having a party night in the local pub and rushed to help move the huge tree from the main roads in order to avoid any other danger.
Alongside residents – including one who brought his tractor – they were able to move the tree to sit it next to the imposing parish church of Saint-Jacques-le-Grand in the heart of the village.
Electrician Devon White was among the first on the scene along with fellow East Midlands Solutions Julian Rowbottom and Julie Ford who had spent an evening at the Lord Combermere pub after watching the lights come on.
Devon, 57, said: “The lights were on bright, there were a lot of people outside, but the winds started to pick up just as people were leaving.
“We were sitting in the pub around 10:30 pm when we got a scream telling us the tree had fallen outside, so we all helped move it.
“We did an extension and renovations at the Methodist Church in Audlem so we had all the building items on hand and then a resident bought his tractor to help out as well. It was a great community effort to get the road cleared. ”
Audlem residents are so proud of their community that they pay a voluntary annual fee to buy flowers and Union Jacks to fly around the village all summer, then in winter they are replaced with mini Christmas trees. adorning EVERY store wall.
A local resident donated his garden’s huge 30-foot central tree, which was dug up and planted in the plaza for this year’s festive event.
A volunteer committee called the Audlem District Amenities Society (ADAS) works in their spare time to make the village so beautiful and plan the Christmas light-on event.
ADAS President Neil Goodyear said: “We were monitoring the weather hour by hour on Friday and decided that the event could take place knowing that strong gusts would hit us later.
“The wind was blowing across Cheshire Street in the square and it was around 10:15 pm when a very strong gust broke the tree.
“We were able to get a team of people together to get the tree out of the way, including the East Midlands construction team working in the village, a local farm contractor with his tractor and our ADAS tree team. . “
On Saturday, the volunteers continued tidying up, while planning to relocate the tree on Sunday.
Neil said: “We plan to cut the bottom and top of the tree, lift it off the sidewalk and assess the damage to the lights below, fix it and put it back in the hole.”
Audlem is located at the southern end of Cheshire, near Nantwich, and close to the borders of Shropshire and Staffordshire.
Residents here are known for their community spirit – and have even agreed to pay an additional levy on their council tax to BUY the field from a local farmer to prevent it from being reclaimed by developers – so that ‘it can be used in perpetuity by the community.
The village has also won numerous community awards and Britain in Bloom is nodding their winning plaques almost filling the wall of one of the main historic buildings in the center of the main square.
This community spirit has long been a part of Audlem life – ever since the Audlem District Amenities Society (ADAS) was established as a charitable organization in 1967.
At the time, residents gathered after a row of pretty cottages next to the historic church in the heart of the village fell into disrepair and was in danger of being demolished.
They banded together to raise enough money to buy and renovate the cabins to make sure they weren’t lost to the developers. Now they form a picturesque row along Stafford Street – with a plaque cementing the work of ADAS proudly displayed on their facade.
Residents are urged to support ADAS by paying a subscription of anything they can afford – from £ 2 per year to £ 100 – with over 500 residents per year supporting their goals.
They use the money to buy some 2,000 plants to hang baskets, troughs and tubs in the city in the summer, and to maintain flag poles where Christmas trees are mounted.
The Audlem Christmas lighting event is also renowned in the region – with Santa Claus arriving by boat on the canal to the delight of local children, with a special candle-fluttering event to announce his arrival.
Audlem’s origins date back several centuries, with mention in the Domesday Book as ‘Aldelime’ – and the village first granted a market charter in the 13th century.
It is famous for its 15 locks on the Shropshire Union Canal – the last waterway designed by Thomas Telford before his death in the 19th century.
The canal continues to draw visitors and vacationers along the waterway itself and travel the scenic path.
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