Christmas lights have been stolen from the tree outside St John’s Church in Burgess Hill, the Middy has been told.
Father Kevin O’Brien at the church in Lower Church Road said this morning that the annual Christmas tree lighting service at the church was now under threat following the shocking theft.
He said: “The annual Christmas tree lighting service at St John’s, and the outside tree lights that stay on until the new year, are under threat this Christmas, as thieves have stolen all the lights from the tree.
“Thieves have stripped all the lights from the tree and at a potential replacement cost of over £1,000, St John’s is concerned that it may not be possible to have the town Christmas tree illuminated this year.”
Four years ago, the church realised that the town no longer had a Christmas tree and wanted to put that right.
With funds contributed from the church and after a generous donation from P&S Gallagher Funeral Services across the road, LED lights were fitted to the tree in St John’s church yard and powered from the church.
By Christmas last year, the tree had up to 6,000 lights and around 180 people would attend the tree lighting service, with a child chosen from the crowd to turn the switch on.
Each year, around 200 people attend a carol service when the lights are turned on.
Mr O’Brien said: “Each year we have added more lights, as Gallagher’s have given additional donations and have very kindly funded the industrial hoist to lift workers to the top of the tree.
“We are determined to continue this year, but the theft of the lights is very expensive to put right, and a sad prelude to Christmas.”
Mr O’Brien said the church had set up a crowdfunding page to replace the lights.
Anyone who would like to make a donation can visit https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/stjohnschurch
Mr O’Brien added: “We shall have to dig deep to see what can be afforded this year. We are determined that Christmas 2018 will remain as bright as ever.”