ONE man is going a very long way to ensure Epworth has its Christmas tree and lights this year.
For retired teacher Martin Whittaker, 64, leaves the Isle on Wednesday to fly to Africa where he will attempt to climb Mount Kilimanjaro - and hopefully raise the cash needed to fund Epworth’s popular festive display.
It’s the first time Mr Whittaker has undertaken such an arduous trek, but the 5,895 metre climb has been a long-held ambition.
He said: “For the past three years I have asked local businesses to donate towards the Christmas lights as it costs about £1,500 each year.
“But as times are difficult for businesses and it’s the general community who benefit from the decorations I thought I could perhaps do my climb for sponsorship, and then anyone who wants to can help towards the cause.
“I’m hoping people will be generous and dig deep to make Epworth look really welcoming over the Christmas period, for everyone’s enjoyment.”
As treasurer of the Epworth Lights Committee, Mr Whittaker is asking as many residents as possible to sponsor his effort, and he stresses that amounts need not be large as any donation will help. Every penny raised this way will go towards the decorations.
He is off to a good start; the South Axholme Academy has already pledged its support from money that will be raised from a non-uniform day in school.
This year, said Mr Whittaker, the volunteers from the Christmas lights committee hope for the biggest, brightest display to date, and it is intended that there will be some new lights to light up the night sky.
An additional two stars have been purchased already to beam from the front of the Mechanics’ Institute for the first time.
Mr Whittaker has not had much preparation time for his trip. The climb was arranged in September, and soon he will join an expedition party of up to 14 people at the foot of the great volcano in Tanzania, to hopefully make its peak on October 18, camping in small tents en route.
He is a seasoned walker, and has trekked previously in the Himalayas and parts of north Africa, but to date he has not attempted anything of this magnitude.
Sponsorship or donations can be paid in to the HSBC bank in Epworth.
Donors should ask for the Christmas Lights account, or use the following details to pay online: sort code 402039, account number 81063987.
Alternatively, sponsorship can be paid to any member of the Christmas lights committee.