Festival of Trees event raises thousands to help protect children

Plymouth businesses have raised thousands of pounds for the NSPCC this Christmas, by supporting its annual Festival of Trees event.

More than 25 Christmas trees, and garlands, are on display at the Theatre Royal Plymouth throughout the Christmas period, providing a festive treat for visitors and passers-by. Each has been sponsored and decorated by a local business, volunteers, school children or the NSPCC’s Youth Participation group.

Supporters of this year’s event gathered for an annual tree party at the theatre, to discover which Christmas tree would be crowned 2018’s best decorated tree.

It was a closely contested competition, with the challenging decision falling to the Deputy Lord Mayor of Plymouth, Councillor Christopher Mavin, and Deputy Lady Mayoress, Councillor Sue Dann.

The Deputy Lord Mayor says: “If you were to look at the organisations around the city and if you were to list who your top organisations are that do good on behalf of the city, I think the NSPCC would always be in the top three with every individual you speak to.

“For them organising this event is tremendous and all the sponsors have done wonderfully. Choosing a winner and runner up was a really, really difficult job because the standard of decoration of the trees has been absolutely superb.”

David May Motor Services took the title, with Michael Spiers claiming the runner-up prize.

Paula Stebbing works for David May Motor Services, based at Ivybridge, and helped decorate the winning tree. She says: “David has supported the NSPCC’s Festival of Trees event for as many years as I can remember. He is a big-hearted, generous soul and it’s a charity that is close to his heart, like a lot of the charities he donates to.

“We decided to do something a bit different this year, and it was lovely to be presented with the award from the Deputy Lord Mayor and Mayoress.

“The organisers have done a tremendous job this year, and let’s hope next year there will be twice as many trees.”

Community Fundraising Manager for Plymouth, Alison Armer, said: “The trees look magnificent and well worth checking out, to get you in the festive spirit, if you’re visiting the city centre.
“This spectacular event would not be possible without the support of Theatre Royal Plymouth, tree sponsors and generous volunteers, who have all put so much time and effort to make it such a success.”

It’s hoped more than £10,000 will be raised from the event, which will help the charity continue its prevention work and protect children from abuse. Going into its 22nd year, the event had raised in excess of £200,000.

Alison added: “The donations help the charity with our work protecting children, including the Speak Out Stay Safe programme we deliver in Plymouth primary schools, Childline, our Plymouth service centre, and the Together for Childhood programme.

“Earlier this year, Plymouth was announced as one of only two cities in the whole of the UK to run the Together for Childhood programme that aims to prevent child sexual abuse.”

As part of the charity’s Christmas Appeal it’s shining a light on child neglect, with landmarks across the UK, including Smeaton’s Tower, lighting up green in support of ‘Light For Every Childhood’.

People are also being encouraged to sparkle up their outfits with friends, family or work colleagues as part of the ‘Get Your Sparkle On’ fundraising event.

Anyone taking part is encouraged to donate £3 to the NSPCC by texting SPARKLE to 70007.

A £3 donation is enough to fund the charity’s School Service to reach another child and help keep them safe from abuse and neglect.

In the last academic year more than 20 primary schools in the city hosted Speak Out Stay Safe assemblies, which taught more than 6,483 children about the different kinds of abuse and identify trusted adults they can speak to if they have a worry or a concern.

To learn more about how you can fundraise for the NSPCC or ‘Get Your Sparkle On’ this Christmas visit www.nspcc.org.uk/sparkleon or get in touch with Alison Armer on 07779341767 or Alison.Armer@NSPCC.org.uk