Magical Winter Forest, 2021

It starts this way every year, we tell ourselves we'll make the next event easier, but because we have a genuine love and enjoyment out of planning and hosting our seasonal events we eventually find that we've added a whole host of new ideas and plans to make it better than the last one, even if that last one was 2019. Then, though, comes the weeks getting closer and deadlines not being finished and this is when the panic sets in, before finally the day comes and... it makes it all worthwhile.

We've been joined by a new NEWT committee member this year, Stuart Hartigan. Stuart had already been volunteering for quite a while with us, so it was really nice to have him join us in the decision-making and steering of the events and activities. The five of us, set about planning the event, long before December and we did this using our own money, NEWT funding and the kindness of the community we have here in Bolton. Homeless Aid UK, Asda, Morrisons, Lidl, Iceland, Nisa, Bright Meadow Honey and a local resident are just some of the people or companies who donated to either the raffle or the Winter Wonderland bags.

The planned event included clay modelling, roasting marshmallows, making a Christmas lantern, a Christmas raffle, a word search hunt with a 'Winter wonderland bag' as a prize, hot chocolate, arts and crafts and a chocolate tombola. In order to raise funds, we purchased £80 of chocolate for the tombola and set about creating handmade elf houses for the raffle and two wood snowmen.

Adele as always, being the unstoppable machine that she is, decided to make 146 bags of Reindeer food for the gift bags, then made 150 wool gonks and 150 hot chocolate reindeer wraps for the tombola.

The day before the event the five of us had to sellotape roughly 400 prizes with raffle tickets for the tombola, then myself and my parents also created 146 Winter Wonderland bags, my parents that night had their house covered in bags and sat without central heating, so the chocolate didn't melt (I'm not kidding).

Finally, the event day came, Stuart had spoken to a local resident Phil who had kindly offered to attend with his Christmas decorated trike, allowing the kids to ride it. Sue was busy creating hot chocolate with milk which was driven to and from the event along with a regular top up of the Winter Wonderland bags for the events. On the day, volunteers; Fiona, Jane, Neve, James, Nicha, Simon, Stuart, Alex, Adele, Jasmine, Sue and Dave made this event happen, without them giving up their Sunday, this event simply wouldn't have happened.

A very big thank you to those who donated at the event, played the chocolate tombola or bought raffle tickets, those donations help to keep these events free and allow us to expand them for next year. We hope you all enjoyed your Christmas and wish you all a happy new year.