Christmas at Wollaton: Switch-on Shortlist Announced!

Nottingham’s first festive outdoor installation will be opened on Thursday 3 December by one of five shortlisted local “stars” from across Nottinghamshire.

The event organisers have been asking for nominations for a local “star” to officially illuminate Christmas at Wollaton and be the first to marvel at the enchanting light display.

Nottingham’s Wollaton Hall & Deer Park in being transformed into an enchanted light experience to create Christmas at Wollaton Hall – a unique socially distanced festive outdoor light installation.

The organisers of Christmas at Wollaton launched the search for a special person to be guest of honour and light up the brand-new magical Christmas lights event.

Nearly 200 entries were received including a range of COVID heroes, people who have raised money for charity, NHS and front line workers, children and adults who have gone above and beyond to help their community in a difficult year.  

A spokesperson commented: “During a challenging year there have been some outstanding acts of kindness across the city and county.  And we wanted to be able to recognise these efforts, with a unique experience.

“We have been overwhelmed by the calibre of nominations and it is going to be a very difficult decision.”

All of the five shortlisted nominees will attend the switch on event, with the winner to be announced shortly, which is being judged by Notts TV Presenter Owen Shipton.

The shortlist is:

Laura Gapski  from Derby Road in Mansfield nominated her daughter Charlotte Hall (13)  who was unable to attend school for the latter part of Year 8 and has recently been forced to self-isolate just as the first part of Year 9 was underway. She has missed school dearly and learning from home has been challenging. Charlotte is a member of Ravenshead Reds football team and has played for them for five years. The team were unable to meet or train during lockdown, during which time the FA advocated running as a means of keeping fit.

Recognising the benefits of exercise, fresh air and contact with friends and loved ones, Charlotte with her mum’s help set up a weekly 2.5km run for her team allowing the girls contact and exercise during this incredibly tricky time. Laura said “The opportunity meant a lot to the team, parents and our Manager and that is why Charlotte is my shining star. I don’t think she realises what a positive impact she had on her team and how proud we are of her thoughtfulness.”

Nicola Barksby, nominated her son Jake from Tavistock Close in Hucknall.

In May 2019 Jake aged just 6 years old was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Jake underwent numerous operations and scans before starting a 22-week course of chemotherapy. In January 2020 following a final MRI scan Jake was given the all clear. Nicola said “As a family we continue to raise funds for the children’s cancer ward at the Nottingham Queens medical hospital and to date have raised just over £6,000. Jake loves Christmas, 3rd December marks a year to the exact day that Jake received his final dose of chemotherapy so this will mean even more to us then you can imagine.”

Stacy Johnson who lives at Hugh Stewart Hall on University Park was nominated by Claire Mann from Wollaton

Stacy is originally from Trinidad but has been a nurse in Nottingham for many years and now teaches nurses at the University of Nottingham. She was recently awarded an MBE for services to Nursing. She is an amazing leader and role model for black women and has been a very positive supporter of the BLM movement educating students, colleagues and nurses. She is supporting research about COVID and minority groups. Claire said “As well as all this Stacy lives in Halls of Residence as a warden looking after students which in COVID has given her some crazy challenges. I’m sure all colleagues and students would agree Stacy really is a shining light for Nottingham.”

Eileen Kearsley from Archer Crescent in Wollaton was nominated by her daughter Emma Kearsley.

Eileen is president of Wollaton WI and has gone above and beyond. As well as organising fundraising efforts to donate £1500 to the Wollaton Park Walled Garden project, she has done so much this year to keep members of her WI’s morale up during lockdown. From organising a virtual village fete and quizzes, to delivering cream teas, cookies and puzzles to all 60+ members. She’s also regularly checked in with her members, so they aren’t lonely. She’s also arranged food shopping for elderly neighbours who live alone. Her daughter said “Me and my sisters are so proud of her and how much she has done for the elderly women of Wollaton. She’s the most selfless person ever and would be nice for her to have a moment in the spotlight – it’s people like Eileen that make Wollaton the wonderful place it is!”

Amy Gathercole from Beeston Rylands was nominated by Camilla Babbage from Beeston

Amy was the main coordinator of Nottingham For the Love of Scrubs, a group that developed in reaction to the lack of PPI in response to the pandemic. She helped to manage a group of over 2000 local volunteers around Nottingham, supporting their wellbeing, motivating them to sew scrubs and other gear that protected front line staff during the initial wave of the pandemic. This group has continued on the foundations made by Amy, with a huge group of sewers continuing to support the pandemic.

With safety a primary concern for everyone, Christmas at Wollaton has also been granted the use of Society Of London Theatre & UK Theatre’s ‘See It Safely‘ mark.  The mark certifies that the event is compliant with the latest Government and industry COVID-19 guidelines, to ensure the safety of all visitors. 

Organisers Kilimanjaro are committed to delivering a really safe event for all. Measures include careful planning of the route to manage visitor flow, ensuring that social distancing can be safely maintained throughout as well as contactless payments and e-ticket access.

The multi-sensory experience of light, fire and sound puts a contemporary twist on the classic seasonal tradition. To ensure safety for all visitors Christmas at Wollaton has pre-bookable slots staggered every 30 minutes for the event. 

The event runs until 6 January 2021.  e-Tickets are priced at *£17.50 for an adult and *£12.50 for children. Family tickets are *£59.50. *subject to a booking fee. 

There are a limited number of discounted tickets available to Nottingham City Council taxpayers with greater availability towards the end of the run. See the website for details and availability.

Twitter and Instagram – @wollatonlights Facebook @wollatonhall 

Posted on 19 November 2020

Back to the News page

Featured author

Kinga Kapias

Featured author

Kinga Kapias