Fir play to man who decorates Wigan village at Christmas

Robert Shuttleworth (right) with Coun George Fairhurst
Robert Shuttleworth (right) with Coun George Fairhurst

The people of a Wigan township have come to rely on Robert Shuttleworth to spruce the place up in time for the festive season.

For this is the 13th time that he has adorned Standish’s centre with Christmas trees.

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The full-time gardener from Hindley has also been responsible for putting up Yuletide firs for shops in Atherton and Tyldesley town centres in years past too as he bids to spread a bit of seasonal cheer and colour.

Mr Shuttleworth started placing and decorating the 4ft-tall trees outside stores in 2005 after local Wigan councillors offered to sponsor the effort with donations from their Brighter Borough funds.

After hearing council cutbacks were making it difficult to keep such an arrangement going in the following years, Mr Shuttleworth came forward with an affordable offer to make the eye-catching Christmas decorations still possible.

Around 40 trees have been put outside 38 stores in Standish town centre, with each business contributing to the cause by decorating their particular tree to their own specifications and themes.

Mr Shuttleworth said: “It brings a bit of brightness to the town centre, and helps businesses as well and I enjoy doing it.

“I have my own gardening business and I have a mate who is also part of that who helps me with this.

“I just try to help the town out as best as I can and I sincerely hope that the trees give the place enough traditional Christmas character that people turn up.

“It’s good because not only does it get people in the mood for Christmas, but it also gets you talking to shop owners and they’re all very receptive of the idea.”

The trees are all mounted on walls on the first floor of the shops so they don’t create an obstacle for pedestrians, are more visible to passers-by and are safely out of reach from any mischief-makers.

This isn’t the only festive work Mr Shuttleworth has done.

Three years ago, he arranged for a giant Christmas tree to be put up where Atherton old town hall used to be, in support of a dementia charity.

Mr Shuttleworth still does the rounds with the trees for Tyldesley’s town centre and uses real Norway spruces for the job.

The trees are all from traders in the area, which Mr Shuttleworth proudly collects from each year in order to deck out the town centre.

Standish councillor George Fairhurst, who approached Mr Shuttleworth and has helped to fund the trees from his own Brighter Borough purse, said: “I am trying to get people to want to shop in Standish, and over the years we’ve had nice comments about the trees and the lights.

“They definitely make a difference.”