SHAFTESBURY’S High Street has been transformed into a winter wonderland with Christmas trees and lights.

The lights were turned on to mark the end of the second national lockdown and officially welcome Christmas to the town.

Residents have been urged to “chip in” to help cover the costs of the main lights and decorations however, after a “troubling” year for the town and its traders.

Normally businesses would cover the costs of the seasonal splendour, but this year the Shaftesbury and District Chamber of Commerce has asked the public if they would like to donate instead, easing the pressure on non-essential shop keepers which were ordered to close twice this year.

Chairperson of the Shaftesbury chamber Virginia Edwyn-Jones said: “Most businesses pay for trees, but this year we didn’t want to ask as it has been such an awful, troubling time.

“We had this great idea that we would put up the trees anyway and make them look as beautiful as possible, as something for the whole community.”

Virginia added: “This year when the subject came up we knew straight away we would still do [decorations] for that sense of normality and joy that they bring. This is the year we really need that.”

Despite paying out for the trees and lights, the chamber is appealing for donations to the cause as it has received little income this year.

This is due to the cancellation of events organised by the chamber, including the Christmas market that was planned for November 29, and its decision to halve this year’s subscription.

The trees had cost around £900 so Virginia hopes the wider community will help the chamber “break-even”.

“The trees are fresh every year so have to be bought, bulbs have to be replaced, this is our biggest expense of the year but we were sure the wider community would want to chip in,” she added.

She described the year as one “without income but with the most expenditure”, adding: “We’ve had to throw our hands up as there has been very little happening, but we’re doing little things and what we can to help.

“The main impact [of Covid-19] is how busy we have been. But iIt’s important we keep support up and help businesses with how to access funding and understanding regulations.”

So far the crowdfunding page has raised around £300. For more information and to donate to the fundraiser click here.