Wellington Monument and its valuable place at the heart of the local community – both in the town and on the Blackdowns – was underlined by an evening of Christmas music there under starlit skies. The event was organised by the National Trust, which manages the Monument, and the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Following a welcoming address by Tim Youngs from Blackdown Hills AONB, the Blackdown Community Choir led families and friends in a programme of familiar carols. It wasn’t quite the bleak mid-winter forecast as the temperature rose above zero despite clear skies and there was only a little wind to scatter the sparks from the bonfires. The benign weather drew crowds to share the atmosphere and the music and to sample Smeatharpe Women’s Institutes’ refreshments. Redwoods Travel provided a free coach to the Monument and National Trust volunteers manned the car parks.
Blazing torches lit the way to the Monument – illuminated once again for the occasion – where firelight and the Blackdown Community Choir conductor’s luminous gloves gave the event a special atmosphere for the crowd. ‘We Wish You a Merry Christmas’ can rarely have been sung with such traditional fervour before Jenny Weston-Siviter of the National Trust closed the evening. Those present could well have left sharing a wish that the Monument’s future could be determined, the arc lights return permanently and its place as integral to the community and the region could be assured.