Stephen's name up in lights as efforts are recognised
By Nicky Carter - Reporter
AN upper dale lights group has dedicated a festive tree to one of their founders by erecting an illuminated plaque.
Stephen Mitchell, who died 11 years ago, made a huge contribution to helping establish Middleton-in-Teesdale’s Christmas Lights display three decades ago. He helped put up the initial displays and organised volunteers.
Now a tree in the grounds of the primary school, strewn with hundreds of illuminations, has been dedicated to his memory.
Lights group member Nancy Coll came up with the idea for the dedication, working alongside Mr Mitchell’s cousin, Christine Gilbert, raising money to fund the work.
Ms Coll said: “Audrey Docherty started it all and recruited Stephen. He got the workforce together and got the lights up.
“We have a tree dedicated to Audrey and I always felt that we should have had something for Stephen and I wanted it in the school field.”
A door-to-door leaflet campaign explaining the idea was successful with residents and businesses keen to get involved.
Middleton Forge donated its time, transport and materials to make the plaque.
Financial donations were given by High Force quarry’s Breedon Group, Samuel James Deli, J Raine and Sons and Hans UK Marine Conservation. A sixties night at the sports and social club, organised by Peter and Eileen Tallentire, also raised £200.
In all, £2,500 was collected to pay for the installation and the running of the illuminated plaque.
Last week Mr Mitchell’s widow, Christine, brother Nigel, and mother Lilian met lights group members Ms Coll and Ms Gilbert and Breedon Group area manager Toby Byers to take a look at the new installation.
Christine Mitchell said: “It is a long time since he died but he is always in my memories.
“You don’t realise he was on other people’s minds as
Yvonne Metcalfe, from the village lights group, said: “We would like to say a very special thank you to Middleton Forge, who once again picked up the village Christmas tree from Raby Estates and have very kindly and generously donated their time, transport and materials.
“On behalf of the Christmas Lights Committee and the village residents may I say a huge thank you to Neil Wallace and his staff for their very generous gift and help.
“Also, a huge thank you to Lyn Mitchell at J Raine & Son for helping with the collection of monies for the £10 annual draw.”