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County Durham schoolgirl spreads festive cheer as she lights up Christmas tree

Dec 7, 2022 | Leisure & Lifestyle

A seven-year-old who sparked a County Durham school to collect much needed supplies for Ukraine, has been spreading festive cheer by lighting up a Christmas tree in Durham City.

Earlier this year, Israelia Manson, who attends Neville’s Cross Primary School in Durham, wrote to her headteacher Rachel Brannan after being moved by the news of the war in Ukraine. She asked if they could have a non-uniform day to raise money for those that had been displaced.

After being inspired by Israelia’s kindness, the school became a hub for donations and answered an appeal for emergency provisions which were needed in Esk, Poland, the hometown of Jo Soulsby, owner of Durham’s Moon jewellery and interior décor.

Working together they managed to collect almost five lorry loads of supplies in total.

As a special thank you to Israelia, Cllr Beaty Bainbridge, Chair of Durham County Council, invited her to County Hall in Durham, to turn on the Christmas lights on the tree outside and the tree on the nearby Framwellgate Peth roundabout.

She was joined by her mam Holly Taylor and her grandparents Robert and Jackie.

Holly said: “I am so proud that Israelia got this opportunity to turn on the lights for her thoughtfulness earlier in the year. It will be something she will remember for years to come.”

Cllr Bainbridge said: “It was lovely to meet Israelia and her family and I am delighted she could help us turn on our festive lights this year. Israelia and her classmates went above and beyond to provide support for those in need.  It is inspiring to see people so young with so much compassion for helping others. I wish them all a merry Christmas.”

Festive joy has also been spread through towns and villages across County Durham by the council’s street lighting team. Work has been underway to install Christmas trees on the roundabouts leading into Durham City as well as Consett, Bishop Auckland, Barnard Castle, Crook, Chester le Street and Seaham.

This year, a new 12-metre artificial tree has also been installed in Durham Market Place. The realistic looking tree comes pre-lit with a slow glow effect and will last for many seasons to come, making it a responsible and sustainable investment. All decorations will also now use more energy efficient LED lights.