The Plympton Chamber first formed in 2010. Stella Goodman, the Secretary for the Plympton Chamber moved her offices to Plympton in 2008 and joined what was formerly known as the Ridgeway Traders Association. The Chair, Andrew Briggs felt they should be reaching out to the larger Plympton business community and so the Plympton Chamber came into being.
“The philosophy behind it was that it wanted to reach out to all Plympton businesses, one man bands to the larger companies and felt that price was a major factor for the smaller businesses. Some of our competitors can be quite expensive, so we wanted to reach out to local businesses and offer a fair price for that” says Stella. The Plympton Chamber of Commerce aims to represent, inform and support local businesses by holding local business network meetings.
Stella tells us that the Ridgeway lights had been going on in some form for a few years before the Chamber was formed, but it had come to a halt due to lack of funding and local support. “Someone in the Chamber suggested it would be great if we could start it up again, as at that point there weren’t any lights for 5 years running. So, from those humble beginnings it all started really!”
The first Ridgway Lights event run by the Chamber was held in 2010, the same year that the Chamber was formed. Stella tells us it wouldn’t have happened without the help of Phil John’s and his team at Weatherhead Shop designers. “Without them it just wouldn’t have gone ahead. It takes about a day and a half to get the lights up, not to mention all the testing beforehand- they dedicated their time to us and we can’t thank them enough”. There was a huge tree on display in the street, and Chamber members were handing out sweets to children and mulled wine to the adults for a real festive feeling.
The first event in 2010 had a few hundred attendees, but that was set to grow in the following years. Beverley Clarke, a Chamber volunteer tells us that the figure has now grown to a few thousand attendees. “The Ridgeway was absolutely packed last year. It was so great to see”.
Stella explains that in 2013, the popularity of the event was made apparent when it couldn’t go ahead, due to committee members being on holiday and lack of general support. “That year we had absolutely no lights, just a tree. The public really didn’t like it, so everyone started to get more involved to help bring it back again”.
Chairman, Mike Lee tells us that as a result of this, the Chamber organised a number of fundraising events; charity bag packing, pig racing, quiz nights and black tie events to name a few! “It really kicked off, and in 2014 we had an events company come in and help us organise the whole thing”. Plympton Councillors have also shown their support by donating to the Chamber for the past 4 years, and with the help of public donations, the event continues to grow and grow.
Plympton Chamber would like to thank everyone who have donated and dedicated their time over the years to enable the event to be what it is today
Moving on to 2017’s event, Stella is keen to tell us that they have big plans. “The budget that needs to be raised is £7000, which includes the ongoing cost of new lights, insurances and permits from Plymouth City Council”. The Chamber spends most of the year fundraising and gearing up for the light switch on. “Every year it gets bigger so more money needs to be raised to keep up with this. We would love to have more LED lights, as the original ones we use have been in situ for over 20 years- we need to move forward with those now!”
The more money raised, the better the event and the better it is for the community. We are all passionate about this and want to see it grow bigger and bigger!
The Chamber are keen to tell us that they are running the event completely self sufficiently this year. “Planning the event takes time, we have to decide where the stage goes, where all the traders’ stalls are going to go and make sure there is enough room for emergency vehicle access if needed”. Mike tells us that this will be their fourth year having an event with a road closure.
There is a real community feel to Lightup Plympton. Beverley tells us how the local Methodist Church organises a nativity, and local schools have choirs performing on the night. “There is a real local feel, everyone loves to get involved”. Mark Hinchliffe, a committee member, explains that they already have some stalls lined up for 2017. “We wanted a real variety of food stalls, to give it a Christmassy feel. We’ve already secured a Prosecco bar which is exciting!”
Stella goes back to her original point about ensuring the Chamber has fair prices, and that this has to be reflected in their events. “It’s important that we have affordable stalls. If you’ve got a large family coming down to enjoy the night, you don’t want unrealistic prices to ruin that”.
Plympton Chamber are offering a number of sponsorship packages for local businesses. These packages aim for the business to promote themselves whilst supporting a local event
Ahead of the Plympton Light switch on, or Lightup Plympton, as it is known- The Chamber are introducing sponsorship packages for local businesses. These packages range from the ‘basic sponsor’ priced at £25, right through to an extensive sponsorship package, or the ‘platinum sponsor’ reasonably priced at £995.
Stella explains that every year the Chamber has a large tree in the spotlight at the event, and each sponsorship package enables the business to have a bauble on the tree to show their support. This is a great centre piece to the evening, and a great way to showcase your business in a fun and festive way!
The more extensive packages include links to the business on the Chambers social media portals, flyers banners and posters, and even a banner on the main stage. “Our aspiration is, if the packages take off then it eases the stress of fundraising throughout the year. Of course we will still carry on with this as it’s a great opportunity for the community to get together”.
The event this year will be held on Monday 27th of November. The stalls and grotto will be open from 3pm, and the lights will be switched on at 6:30pm.
Stella explains that they have an exciting surprise guest from Game of Thrones switching on the lights this year, and a fun raffle prize which is a three course meal cooked by the chairman Mike Lee himself. The winner will be waited on hand and foot by Stella and Beverley. Definitely a prize worth winning!
The Chamber are always looking for volunteers to help. “We are in need of volunteers to help put the lights up 2 weeks prior to the event, and to take them down again. We are also welcoming any local entertainers that would like to showcase their skills on the night!”