What Christmas means to Guildford
PUBLISHED: 15:20 10 May 2012 | UPDATED: 16:28 20 February 2013
With its cobbled streets and fabulous shopping, Guildford is a truly magical place at the best of times. Christmas, however, really does bring out its best side. MATTHEW WILLIAMS finds out more from ten of the town's high profile figures
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine December 2009
With its cobbled streets and fabulous shopping, Guildford is a truly magical place at the best of times. Christmas, however, really does bring out its best side. MATTHEW WILLIAMS speaks to ten high profile figures from Surreys county town to discover their favourite festive memories
Leader of Guildford Borough Council
Christmas started early for me in 1988! It was April 19 when, as Mayor, I opened the new Foyer at the former Civic Hall and at the same time launched the first pantomime to be produced there. It starred Bill Maynard in Cinderella. When summer came, no longer Mayor, my support for the venture continued. I dressed up as Buttons to join the Civic Hall float in the Guildford Show Carnival procession the design was such that no one recognised me! When Christmas actually came, Cinderella went well and children of all ages had great fun but with all this, the true meaning of Christmas must not get forgotten.
Guildford Shakespeare Company
My favourite thing about Christmas in Guildford is the turning on of the lights. The High Street is always full and the buzz of community spirit is wonderful, as the actors from the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre appear in their full panto costumes to turn the lights on. I think the old cobbled street looks beautiful at Christmas and I think there is room for more events like this. I would love to see a singing Christmas tree in the High Street! My friends from London love coming to Guildford to do their Christmas shopping, too.
Presenter on 96.4 Eagle Radio
As a born and bred Guildfordian, to have the opportunity to help switch on the towns Christmas lights each year is a real privilege. It never ceases to amaze me just how many people come along to join in the festive celebrations helped, Im sure, by the chance to see a panto star or two! Theres something about being able to look out from the Guildhall balconyand see the throng stretching down the High Street. And Im proud to be the man behind the Guildford switch-on Mexican wave. It all helps to pass the time before the big countdown! Happy times.
Guildford town centre officer
Having been born in the town and lived in the surrounding areas for most of my life, Christmas in Guildford holds so many happy memories. I can remember that, aged seven, I once secured prime spot on one of the Tunsgate pillars for the lights switch-on. Today, 18 years on, I am so proud to be involved as town centre officer in organising an event that will hopefully give so many happy memories to others. Guildford is a wonderful place to be and I hope that it will be a great Christmas for so many reasons.
Manager of New Look, Friary Street
Having worked in retail for the past ten years now, Christmas is usually an extremely busy time for me, especially in Guildford. I really do try to make the most of the time off that I get over the Christmas period and I do this by spending it with my parents. As a keen cook, I really enjoy making dinner for the whole family and this year will be particularly special as I will be celebrating the festive season in my new house!
Landlady at The Keep Pub and chair of the Guildford Pubwatch
Christmas in Guildford? Well, what more could you want: crisp winter days, cold winter nights, the picturesque Victorian town centre glittering with Christmas lights, carol singers in the town centre! The shops, restaurants and bars are warm, welcoming and sparkling with festive decorations the warmed punch, Christmas mulled wines and hot and filling casseroles obviously help to give the town that glow! For us in the night time economy, the atmosphere that is unique in Guildford is enhanced by customers in the party spirit looking for great relaxed evenings out. As they say, in Guildford you wish it could be Christmas every day!
Director of Churchouse Financial Planning, High Street
Christmas is a magical time of year for many people, young and old. It is also a time to think about others and to offer help and support to those who may have had a difficult time of 2009, a year that many may want to see pass. Having lived in Guildford for 30 years, I have seen our community grow and thrive in that time, while maintaining the majesty of its long and diverse history. This history, which is embedded into the fabric of the High Street and its surrounds, makes Christmas even more special in Guildford.
Manager at The County Club, High Street
My favourite memory of Guildford at Christmas is from last year, when The County Club sponsored two reindeer and their newly born fawns to spend the day in the High Street as part of the Christmas lights switching on ceremony, of course! Throughout the day, I watched from the club windows as mums with their buggies stopped and enjoyed the deer in their pen. Childrens faces were a picture of delight Christmas was coming and you could really sense the excitement.
Director of Guildfords Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
My Christmas is certainly different from most peoples: I have to start planning it during March, and I am not talking about what to put in the stockings unless they are Cinderellas that is! We start casting in March and by July are planning the show in detail. Christmas begins in earnest when the decorations go up in early December. Then its head down and push for the 60-odd people involved, as we give 67 shows in five-and-a-half weeks. For me, Christmas Eve is two shows and shopping for the family, Christmas Day is a lovely day off and then, at 1.30pm on Boxing Day, we start the first of the three performances for that day. I wouldnt change it for anything!
Resident at Abbots Hospital, High Street
Living at Abbots Hospital brings home to me the spiritual meaning of Christmas, not just the glitz and glitter of the season.We love welcoming children here and enjoy their carol singing and concerts. We are also privileged to be invited to wonderful events organised by local schools, where the staff and pupils couldnt be kinder!Residents at Abbots are not just neighbours, were all friends, too. On Christmas Day, we have drinks at the Masters Lodging followed by a traditional lunch with all the trimmings, which is prepared by two of the residents, and wine provided by the Governors. Its a real community Christmas!