A parade of boats on the Wilts and Berks Canal, one carrying Santa and another sporting Rudolf’s big red nose, was the highlight of the first ever Christmas community event at Wichelstowe, one of the most significant new home developments in Swindon’s recent history.
As the boat parade glided under the feature foot bridge, hundreds of people cheered at the arrival of Father Christmas on Wilts and Berks Canal Trust’s boat “Dragonfly.” Santa was accompanied by Wilber, the Wiltshire Air Ambulance mascot.
The event was jointly hosted by Waitrose and Partners, Hall and Woodhouse, the Deanery CE Academy and the Wichelstowe development. The evening got underway with an Advent Service devised and led by students from The Deanery, whose modern take on the nativity and interactive singing raised the roof and nearly filled the 450-capacity theatre. Afterwards proceedings moved outside where guests enjoyed carols performed by Wroughton Silver Band.
Waitrose & Partners welcomed visitors with complimentary mince pies, warmed urns of mulled wine and seasonal cheese tastings.
Children were invited to visit Father Christmas in his grotto in Hall and Woodhouse to have their photo taken and receive a gift kindly provided by Lindt.
The Canalside area was decorated with Christmas trees and festive lights as well as 80 wooden decorations which had been painted by the Deanery students.
An annual event
Christmas at Wichelstowe will be an annual event and it is hoped it will grow alongside the community as new residents move into the area. Plans are already in place for future years with Waitrose and Partners donating a number of small potted trees to the Deanery students to grow. The aim is to have a number of school-grown large trees ready to decorate by the time the school has a sixth form.
The event was also supported by David Wilson Homes, Barratt Homes, John Lewis and Partners, Knights Brown, Stantec and Keystone.
Emma Leake, Wichelstowe Development Coordinator said: “It was a fantastic evening, and everyone had a brilliant time. It was a real community effort and I want to thank all the companies and associations who donated their time and resources so generously.
“A huge thanks in particular to Karl at Hall and Woodhouse for getting the ball rolling and bringing together The Deanery, Waitrose and the development team to host the second of our fantastic community events.
“We look forward to seeing everyone again in June for the second annual Wichelstowe Games.”
The latest phase of Wichelstowe, named Canalside @ Wichelstowe, will feature a mix of 208 apartments and houses from five-star builders David Wilson Homes and Barratt Homes. The first residents will be able to move into their new homes next year.
Wichelstowe is being delivered by a joint venture company which is a 50:50 partnership between Swindon Borough Council and Barratt Developments plc. Over the next 20 years, the Wichelstowe Joint Venture will deliver around 3,000 new homes on a 250-hectare area of land. Wichelstowe, which will have an extensive area of open space featuring playing pitches, allotments and nature conservation, will include three primary schools and a secondary school.