Oban set to sparkle and shine – despite humbug Covid

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The first of Oban’s official Christmas lights are being switched on tonight.

Covid has cancelled the town’s customary switch-on celebration and reindeer parade but the seasonal show of sparkly lights marking the countdown to Christmas will go on.

More than £7,000 has just been awarded to BID4Oban from Oban Common Good Fund to pay for the installation of the town’s lights and to buy new lights for trees going outside The Rockfield Centre and in Argyll Square.

In addition to that £7,300, BID4Oban is also set to get a further £2,200 linked to the town’s main four large trees – they are due to go up on Monday November  23 in Argyll Square, Stafford Street, Dunollie Road opposite Farmfoods and at the end of Lochavullin. The trees are being donated by Tilhill Forestry but BID4Oban is making a donation to a charity of its choice. The tree lights will switch on as the trees go up.

The first official festive lights to brighten up the town will be the small Christmas trees attached to lampposts across Oban, which have been programmed to light up this evening, Thursday November 19, the same time as Oban traders stay open late for Christmas shoppers.

The hope is for shops to open late every Thursday to get tills jingling in the run-up to December 25, BID4Oban chief executive Andrew Spence said: ‘We need to get people out shopping locally, it’s absolutely vital.’

Thanks to the Oban Common Good Fund, Oban Community Skatepark also got an early Christmas present bringing it £5,000 closer to its fundraising goal for a feasibility study.

Skatepark chairman Mark MacQueen said supporters were delighted the bid got its full amount, driving the project forward.

Plans are now to commission a digital feasibility study, costing about £12,000, before Christmas and go on to engage as much of the community as possible in a consultation the New Year.

The consultation seeking input from targeted businesses as well as other organisations, groups and individuals across Oban. The suyrvey will be online rather than face-to-face at this stage because of Covid, added Mr MacQueen.

Money from the Oban Common Good Fund was given to secure matchfunding already on the table for the study. A chunk of funding was promised from the MacQueen Bros Charitable Trust and the outcomes of three other bids submitted to big funders are also eagerly awaited, said Mr MacQueen.

‘We are delighted to hear the good news from Oban Common Good Fund. We’ve already had a fantastic response from the community excited about the skatepark potential and are delighted with the support so far to get it off the ground. We need to keep that support going,’ he added.

A recent appeal in The Oban Times for people to go to the skatepark’s Facebook page and give it a like, saw the number of likes jump from 200 plus to 717 and ‘growing daily’ said Mr MacQueen.

‘The more support that funders see us get, the bigger our chances are of getting their backing. A huge thank you to everyone who has liked us so far. Keep it coming,’ he added.