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Light Up Pen


County Councillor Darrell Owens explains here his involvement with  light up pen and how it started

Light Up Pen was formed back in March 1999 as a result of a public meeting called by Penmaenmawr Town Council to address the problems regarding Christmas lighting in the town, A small committee of about eight was formed and we held our first meeting with no idea of where to begin acquiring Christmas lights. It was decided that we would write to Blackpool to see if they had any lights they could sell us or perhaps give us some contacts we could look at with the possibility of placing a small order with them. They very kindly gave us a huge list of contacts and we started at the top of the list with a company in Stockport, they told us to come over to see them one evening and they would show us what sort of lighting they could provide. We went over and after a brief demonstration we decided there and then that this was the company we use as their lights were safe, reliable and were capable of surviving severe weather conditions.

For the last six years we have continued to use the same company and as a result many neighbouring towns now also use the same company. The company have a track record second to none and they look after us extremely well, giving us advice and assisting us in saving money wherever possible. It is simply a case of me phoning up and saying "can you send me 300 metres of 240volt runs in multicolour lights with catenary and lenses, etc. and they are with us in a day or two. Also Tom the manager often travels out to see us with new ideas that he thinks we could use and then gives us advice on how best to use them.

Back in 1999, I suggested in a meeting as a joke, "when will we have the switch-on?" expecting plenty of laughs and nothing more. However, the response was, well what about such and such a date, so that's how the "Switch-On" came about.

 In 1999 it was Alan Fletcher alias Dr Karl Kennedy from Neighbours, 2000 saw Bob Carolgees, 2001 we invited little Charlotte Speddy along, she had just undergone many months of treatment in California to rectify a ribcage and spinal problem.

 This proved to be the most successful "Switch-On" we could have imagined, TV crews descended from everywhere, I was taking interviews with BBC on-line, etc. and the press just had a frenzy!

This also created a further problem for us - how could we match the previous year? In 2002, we invited TNT a local Welsh girl band along, they had recently appeared in Shane Richie's film "Shoreditch" and also sang a track on the soundtrack to the movie, they had also been at number 1 in the Welsh charts for 8 weeks earlier in the year. Linda, Kelly and Ffion proved a great success, giving a showcase on stage after switching on the lights much to all the crowds' approval.

Then in 2003, we invited another Welsh girl band along; Pheena, Sara, Ceri and Tesni had supported Blue on their UK tour and were just in the process of promoting their new EP. They also had done a slot on stage after the "Switch-On" and we had another six bands following making it a much bigger event than previous years. As I am in charge of booking the acts for the "Switch-On",for the last three years I have been trying to secure Lisa Scott-Lee to come along, she is a local girl and we try to keep the event as Welsh as possible. Fortunately, this year I have managed to secure the booking of Lisa Scott-Lee and her new single "Get It On" is released on Monday 22nd November 2004, just days before our "Switch-On"! Who knows it could chart high in the charts the same weekend and as she is appearing on "Children In Need" on the 19th we could possibly get extra coverage for the event.

Where Penmaenmawr is unique is the fact we fund our own Christmas lights, the money raised to purchase them comes from the Light Up Pen Cafe run by Betty Thomson and a team of dedicated helpers. I spend the money raised on the lights and call on the help of Ken Stevens, Graham Roberts, Eugene Cato, Emma Morgan, Wayne Parry and many others to assist in putting them up ready for the big day. We have a funfair, sideshows, etc. plus a large stage area for plenty of live music throughout the evening. We also call on the help of local DJs to provide shows throughout the day and help promote what will be happening during the evening. Many local bands and artists provide their time for free as do the many volunteers who assist in decorating the stage, going out with collection tins, etc.

To date Light Up Pen has raised thousands for many other charities as well as providing in excess of £40,000 of lights for Penmaenmawr, Dwygyfylchi and Penmaenan.