CHRISTMAS lights have been switched on in Ilminster - but no one was around to mark the occasion last night (November 18).

Ilminster lights were switched on via wifi, after the annual Victorian Night on November 20 was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Ilminster Lights Committee wanted to make sure the lights were switched on as close to the original Victorian Night date to “brighten up the town”.

“It has been one very busy period but thanks to the magnificent work of a bunch of about 20 volunteers we have managed to get the town decorated as promised,” said Ilminster Lights Committee chairman Clinton Bonner.

“The majority of the volunteers are in their 60s, 70s and even early 80s, with younger lads providing the backbone of the effort. With careful planning, and the use of personal protection equipment, they have kept the workload going while doing their best to protect themselves and others from the dreadful virus.”

The lights have been dedicated in memory of Graham Smith, a volunteer of many years, who passed away earlier this year.

“I would like to personally and sincerely thank all the volunteers for making this possible, and also thank the townspeople and traders for their patience and co-operation during this period helping to get this done for the town,” he added.

Mr Bonner explained due to the last lockdown, no essential repairs were made to the light premises and so the team were three months behind once they started to put up the decorations.

The committee have spent £8,000 on repair work and placed two new frames on Market Square.

“We are sorry that there could be no official switch-on night which the children love so much but we also hope that now they are up and on everybody enjoys the lights throughout the Christmas and New Year period,” he said.

“We will, of course, not be able to carry out our fundraising over that period as in previous years so I would ask that if anyone would like to make a donation towards the lights it would be much appreciated - there is a collection tin in my shop in Silver Street.

“I would like to take this opportunity on behalf of the volunteers of the lights committee to wish all the people of Ilminster and district a very Happy Christmas and New Year.”

Each year the businesses in the town pay for a decorated tree, but this year the committee offered the service for free.

And there is still a lot of replacement work that needs to be cone and so a JustGiving page has been set up for donations.

To donate visit

Ilminster Chamber of Commerce President Phil Wyatt said: "From all of the members of the chamber, I would like to say a huge thankyou to the Ilminster lights team for all their hard work again this year especially taking into account all the restrictions they have had to deal with.

“Once again Ilminster will look fantastic leading up to Christmas and bring a lot of happiness in a trying year.”