Darlington builders Bussey and Armstrong are celebrating twenty years of sponsoring the town's Christmas tree's fencing.

While this year's impressive Christmas tree stands at 35ft tall and has the warm glow of 7,500 lights, 20 years ago Tony Cooper, Director of Darlington house builders Bussey and Armstrong, was disappointed with the state of the fencing around the town's tree.

"It was a beautiful tree but the fencing around the base didn't do it justice at all," he said.

"The next day I contacted the council's events team and offered to provide a solution. I commissioned local blacksmith Brian Russell of Little Newsham Forge to come up with a design for a tree surround that would be nice to look at but effective at keeping would-be tree climbers at bay."

It's a partnership that's lasted two decades, with the fencing itself lasting, too.

“Brian does a lot of work for us and he is an exceptional craftsman. We were delighted with his design for the tree surround and his work has stood the test of time, we haven’t even had to repaint it. Our team puts it in place every year when the tree goes up and takes it away again at the end of the season.

“We’re Darlington’s longest established house builder and for the last one hundred years, have only ever built houses in the borough. We are passionate about the town and are always happy to support the local community and the council with their events.”

Councillor Jamie Bartch, Darlington Borough Council’s cabinet member for economy added: “The tree surround is now something that everyone takes for granted. It’s become part of the Christmas tradition in the town with many a family standing alongside the festive railings for a keepsake photo.

“It’s a great example of how we work with our business community to use their skills and expertise and goodwill to improve what we offer.

"Our events team works in partnership with local businesses to deliver the full programme of wonderful events throughout the year, we depend on their generous support and thank each and everyone of them.”

Free family festive events will take place in the town with the Ice Sculpture trail on Saturday 10 December, while the free ice rink returns from 17-22 December, though booking in advance through the council's website is advised. Meanwhile the characters of Olaf, Elsa, Anna and Tinkerbell will be in town from 11am-3pm to spread some Christmas magic on Thursday 22 December.

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