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Dereham townspeople rally round to provide new Christmas tree

PUBLISHED: 15:06 18 December 2009 | UPDATED: 15:34 07 July 2010

Kathryn Cross

We won't be beaten by a petty and pathetic vandal.

That was the message loud and clear to the person responsible for felling Dereham's 35ft Christmas tree as the town rallied round to prove that festive spirit was still alive and well despite someone's mindless attempt to destroy the mood.

We won't be beaten by a petty and pathetic vandal.

That was the message loud and clear to the person responsible for felling Dereham's 35ft Christmas tree as the town rallied round to prove that festive spirit was still alive and well despite someone's mindless attempt to destroy the mood.

Since the EDP reported the tree had been hacked down on Wednesday night the town council was overwhelmed with offers of help, from trees in people's gardens to cash donations and general support to restore the town's pride and joy.

As a result a new tree is being erected in the Market Place tomorrow morning, donated by Beetley aggregates firm Barker Bros who also donated the original one.

The lights were salvaged from the fallen tree and will be replaced next week by Mark Brown Electrical who has offered his time for free and Access Rentals in Wymondham have donated a cherry picker.

The town council's tree surgeon Jonathan Cheetham has mobilised a team virtually overnight to collect and erect the tree, a job which usually takes months to organise while funds have poured in to help pay for the costs.

Among the first to donate were Dereham Police with £200, the partners at the Theatre Royal Surgery with £50 and a Mr Howlett of Toftwood was quick off the mark with his donation of £50.

Earlier this morning staff at the QD Store rang the town council to offer £100 worth of decorations.

Tony Needham, town clerk, said the phones had been red hot with pledges but the rest of the cost will come out of the prize money from the Pride in Norfolk award they won earlier in the year.

He said: “The way local people and business have rallied around to support the tree is one of the reasons we were awarded the Pride in Norfolk award and it is fitting that we can use the prize money to restore the pride in the town and we can be Christmassy again.

“Mr Cheetham and his men have done an enormous amount to get the tree and organise it at no notice with lorries, diggers, cranes and machines etc.

“They really are going above and beyond what they would really want to do on the last Friday and Saturday before Christmas.”

The council is ensuring this tree is fitted with steel wire around the trunk to prevent any more vandalism and Dereham police inspector Paul Wheatley said his officers would be keeping an extra close eye on it.

He added: “We are still making enquiries and I want to reassure the public that we are not putting this matter aside but it is a top priority for our Safer Neighbourhood Team. We want to hear from any witnesses or anyone with information.”

The town Mayor Ann Bowyer and deputy Mayor Robert Hambidge, said it was fantastic that people and business had come together to restore the tree.

Mrs Bowyer said: “This support just goes to show that the petty behaviour of a pathetic individual won't stop the people of Dereham coming together to ensure we can celebrate Christmas properly.”

Anyone with information about the crime should contact police on 0845 456 4567.

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