Wednesday, 28 July 2021

Shoppers enjoy Christmas celebration

MORE than 1,000 people attended Goring’s annual late-night shopping festival on Friday last week.

MORE than 1,000 people attended Goring’s annual late-night shopping festival on Friday last week.

Retailers in High Street stayed open until 8pm and gave away festive treats while community groups ran information stalls and a Christmas tree in Rectory Gardens was lit up.

The ceremony was conducted at 6pm by singer Chris Russell, of rock band The Lightyears, who grew up in Goring and played his first gig at the village hall.

Scores of people gathered as he performed Santa Claus Is Coming To Town and Kirsty MacColl and The Pogues’ Fairytale of New York on acoustic guitar.

He also signed copies of his debut novel Mockstars, which was inspired by his own career as a professional touring musician.

The crowd then sang carols accompanied by singers from several Goring choirs, who were conducted by villager Janet Pound. A collection was taken for the Sue Ryder hospice in Nettlebed.

Goring Village Butchers in The Arcade ran a barbecue and the neighbouring Chef King Chinese restaurant ran a buffet.

A festive fancy dress competition for dogs and cats was held at Goring Vets and visitors could take a guided tour. Youngsters were shown how to measure an animal’s breathing using an oximeter which was attached to a cuddly toy dog.

Children were also given a bingo card and encouraged to visit each shop to collect a stamp. Those who completed their card were given sweets.

Firefighters from the village fire station had their engine on display and a family games night was held at Goring Free Church and Goring scouts sang carols at The Arcade.

Father Christmas was walking around greeting children and collected about £100 for charity.

Nigel Levy, who runs the butcher’s with his wife Christine, said: “It was quite a fruitful evening. The barbecue was popular and we took a few Christmas orders too.

“This is only our second year but it was definitely busier than last time. I think the milder weather encouraged a few more people to come out.”

The Goring Grocer, a delicatessen which opened at the former Art@Goring premises last month, offered cheese tastings.

Co-owner Stuart Pierrepont said: “We were busy all evening, which was great for us as a new business.”

Billy McNamee, of office supplier Swift Ink, said: “We had loads of people coming in right up until closing time. It helped that we were near the barbecue, which had a massive queue.”

Mary Galer, who runs the Miller of Mansfield with her husband Nick, said: “We were absolutely rammed. There was a lovely atmosphere, especially once the tree had gone up."

The late-night shopping was organised by Jeanne Hunter, who owns the Inspiration gift shop in The Arcade.

She said: “We try to give the night a real community focus so it’s more about bringing people together than shops making money.

“Goring has a lot of independent businesses and it’s a chance for them to greet customers and thank them for their support over the year.

“We don’t advertise it very widely but everyone knows about it and wants to come. It has become a tradition that everyone appreciates.

“The retailers said they were very happy with the turnout. It’s good marketing for them and a lovely way to kick off Christmas.

“It was a really busy evening but the people who came were mostly Goring residents so it was quite an intimate gathering.

“I’ve been running it for a few years and it’s always pretty easy because everyone is keen to take part.”

The Goring Gap Business Network organised the tree lighting and the tree was sponsored by Nelson Rogers, who owns Rogers Fencing in Crays Pond.

Dawn Roberts, who co-chairs the business network, said: “The Christmas switch-on proved a marvellous way to start the season. Everyone really enjoyed Chris Russell’s performance and the carol singing.

“We are indebted to a number of other people for their assistance, not least all the local men who were dragged off the street or from local shops and pubs to help lift the tree into its plinth. It was a real feat of muscularity!”

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