The Selby Tree of Light, created to celebrate the lives of loved ones, was lit for the 23rd year on Saturday, 27 November.
Yorkshire Cancer Research’s Selby Volunteer Group has been organising the Tree of Light since 1999, and in that time the volunteers have raised more than £24,000 to help fund vital research in the region. This year, the event raised £1,790.
Members of the public are invited to sponsor a light in memory of family and friends by making a donation to the charity. The names of sponsors and those remembered are recorded in a Book of Remembrance, which is available to read in the Selby Town Hall.
Kay Enion, Secretary of the volunteer group, said: “It’s so nice to have these lights shining over the town throughout the Christmas season. We have people who come to see it and say things like, ‘that’s grandad shining at the top of the tree’, which is really lovely to hear.”
Kay was inspired to start the Tree of Light after her father passed away in 1998 and his sister sponsored a light in his memory on a Christmas tree in Newcastle.
The volunteers then introduced the idea to Selby, where it has become an important part of the town’s Christmas traditions. This year, the tree was lit by Selby Mayor Michael Dyson.
Kay continued: “It’s become a tradition in Selby and the whole town comes together to help put on the event. We have seen lights dedicated to the same people for many years as their loved ones continue to remember them each Christmas.”
The volunteers received help providing festive cheer from Selby Abbey Primary School Choir. The choir, made up of children between the ages of seven and 11, performed a carol concert ahead of the switch on. Guests were also invited to enjoy a hot drink and mince pie, provided by Sainsbury’s and Tesco, after the concert.
Kay continued: “Last year we weren’t able to hold the event due to the pandemic, although people were still able to sponsor a light. It’s really nice to be able to welcome everyone back properly, and I hope that this will be our best year so far.”
Chair of the group Doreen Holmes began volunteering for the charity more than 50 years ago and has been part of the Tree of Light since it first began.
She said: “I first started volunteering for Yorkshire Cancer Research because my friend passed away from cervical cancer in the 1960s, when there weren’t as many treatment options as there are now. I’ve been Chair of the group since 1989.
“I wanted to volunteer for the charity because all the money raised in Yorkshire funded research to help people in Yorkshire.”
The Selby Volunteer Group was first formed in 1967, and in that time, they have raised a phenomenal £231,318.55 to help prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer in Yorkshire.