Parade hit by cuts

The walking nativity on Market Street, Atherton
The walking nativity on Market Street, Atherton
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ONE of the borough’s best-loved festive traditions is in danger because of police budget cuts.

The Atherton Walking Nativity, which has been run for the past five years, sees local schoolchildren form a spectacular parade through the town centre streets dressed as shepherds, wise men, angels, Mary and Joseph.

Last year’s procession was led by live donkeys, with spectators singing carols to get into the festive spirit and the event finishing at St John’s Church with a prayer service. However, plans for this year’s nativity have been thrown into chaos after the police said they were not willing to police the road closures and parade due to a lack of funds. The nativity’s organisers now face a desperate race against time to sign up enough volunteers to ensure the event, scheduled for December 9, goes ahead.

Atherleigh Councillor Susan Loudon, one of the driving forces behind the event, said: “I desperately need volunteers to stand on the roads and oversee the closures, otherwise the parade will not go ahead.

“I asked a group of army cadets if they would be able to help, but they said they neded ten weeks’ notice.

“It’s not a huge commitment, I will need them for around two hours on the evening and they will also have to attend a briefing.

“For those who have never done it before, I will also be walking the schoolchildren around the route so if they come down that will give them an idea of what happens.”

Five roads will need to be closed for the event, with the cost of signs and the road closures being covered by the Brighter Borough fund.

Talks for volunteers will be held on November 30 at 2pm and 6pm at Atherton Town Hall, and on December 1 at 7.15pm at Howe Bridge Scout HQ. If you can help marshal the parade, contact Susan Loudon on 897240 or email s.loudon@wigan.gov.uk