Communities enjoy the big switch on – Upper Achintore

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Singing carols around the tree brought a great Christmas atmosphere despite the heavy rain. Photograph: Iain Ferguson,

Despite the rain and the low temperature, a crowd of nearly 80 locals turned up to hear the Lochaber Community Wind Band and watch young Maxi Maxwell perform the switch-on ceremony for this year’s festive Christmas Tree lights in Upper Achintore.

Upper Achintore Regeneration Group’s ‘Christmas Day in Upper Achintore’ poetry competition was won by Maxi who is a Primary 7 pupil at Lundavra Primary School.

The winning poem being chosen by local children’s author Barry Hutchinson who had a busy weekend reading all 76 entries and choosing a winner and three runners-up.

All four won a gift courtesy of Highland Council’s Tenant Participation Officer Karin McKay and Maxi also had the honour of switching on the lights. Kaela (P7), Nicolas (P4) and Brooke (P4) were the runners-up.

Lochaber Wind Band braved the heavy rain to provide music for the Carol singing. Photograph: Iain Ferguson,

Mark Linfield, chairman of UARG said: ‘We had a great response to our poetry competition – many thanks to the staff and teachers of Lundavra Primary for their help.

‘We are also grateful to the Wind Band for performing in such extreme weather and to Barry for reading all the children’s poems.

Barry sent the following message which has been passed on to the school.

‘I was very happy to be asked to judge the Upper Achintore Christmas poem competition, and settled myself down with my Santa hat on, a mug of hot chocolate, and an unhealthy number of biscuits to read them.

‘What I didn’t expect was for the decision to be so difficult. The poems were all brilliant and I felt a full 600 per cent more Christmassy by the time I’d finished reading them.

‘They used some fantastic imagery that made me feel everything from excited and happy to shivering with the cold.

‘I really enjoyed some of the word choices in the P1 entries to describe their brilliant drawings of Christmas trees and I reckon there are a lot of future poets among them.

‘Choosing a winner was a real struggle and I had to read and re-read at least 20 very strong poems until I finally settled on the winners and runners-up.

‘Everyone who entered should be really proud of themselves and their entries. They were all way better than I was doing at that age.

Mark added: ‘Well done to Maxi and all the other entrants. We were very pleased with the turnout despite the adverse weather and hope to see more local people coming to our meetings.’

Read Maxi’s poem at


Christmas Time by Maxi Maxwell

Twa’s December the 24th

When all children were asleep

People wrapping presents

Some expensive and some cheap….


In Upper Achintore the lights shone brightly

As Santa put the children’s presents down lightly

The elves were returning to the North Pole

Some people getting toys and some getting coal


As December 25 finally came

Parents woke up lighting the fire with a flame

Families around the world, sharing their love

As loving as two turtle doves


The Christmas trees sparkled with tinsel around them

With the magic glistening star standing beautifully on the stem.