THE community of Tavistock has done their parish church proud, helping to raise a near record £13,000 at its annual Christmas Tree Festival.

During the event’s ten-day run, schools, charities, businesses, groups and organisations exhibited a spectacular 60 trees at St Eustachius’, and some 8,000 visitors viewed the breathtaking displays. The amount raised will go towards maintaining and enhancing the 700-year-old church.

Tony Sherlock, treasurer of the organising group, the Friends of St Eustachius’, said: ‘For atmosphere alone, this, our 13th year, has been the most successful of them all.’

As a steward, he said he had spoken to a number of visitors and what really came across was how people viewing the trees visibly started to relax, having left behind the troubles of the world to step into the warmth and light of the church.

Another member of the Friends, Hugh Walkington said: ‘There was an overwhelming atmosphere of happiness and goodwill among the visitors every time I was in the church.’

Adrienne Varley, another steward, found it ‘a nourishing experience’. ‘I met fantastic crowds every day and wonderful well wishers amongst beautiful trees in the most peaceful of settings.’

Pat Morrison, who organises the event annually, thanked all those in the community, church and non-church goers alike, who helped with refreshments, stewardship and clearing and tidying up. She also thanked Tavistock Town Council’s works team for setting up and dismantling the Christmas Trees’ trestles and tables and Mount Kelly College mums for supplying cakes for daily refreshments.

Chairman Anne Johnson said: ‘My thanks to everyone who attended the festival, the groups who decorated the trees, musicians who provided entertainment — all those who so generously gave their time to help in so many ways.’

Visitors were asked to vote for their favourite tree and chose Abbey Surgery’s, with the message, ‘Catch It, Bin It, Kill It!’ (pictured). Devon County Council was second with their tree, ‘Reaching for Independence’ and third were Memory Café. Mount Kelly Preparatory School won the schools section, with Tavistock Primary, second, and Whitchurch Primary School, third.