The Forum’s dinosaur-themed Christmas tree has been lit up for the festive season with some magical assistance from pantomime star Cinderella.
The grand switch on was held on Thursday, November 28, with the 6.5 metre tree decked head to toe with prehistoric creatures and decorations for families to enjoy as well as 6,000 twinkling lights.
The Christmas tree was given a dinosaur theme to herald Dippy the Diplodocus’ visit to Norwich Cathedral next year as part of his tour from the Natural History Museum in London.
The lights were switched on by Kara-Lianne Jones, a graduate of the Italia Conti Arts Centre, who will be swapping The Forum for the stage as she prepares to play Cinderella in Norwich Theatre Royal’s pantomime from 17 December to 19 January.
The festive switch on was also accompanied by carols performed by an intergenerational choir made up of residents from Badgers Wood Care Home and pupils at Drayton C of E Junior School, brought together by the charity Friend in Deed.
The Christmas tree was once again donated and decorated by the family who run Taverham Nursery Centre and was again named Elliott's Tree in honour of five-year-old Elliott Frary who has close ties to the nursery and was born with a rare chromosome disorder.
Visitors enjoying the tree are encouraged to make a donation to this year’s cause Friend in Deed - a local charity which brings young and old together to combat loneliness in later life. Friend in Deed was chosen in memory of Elliot’s great-grandfather, Roy Drane, the founder of the family business who died in January 2019, aged 90.
Jayne Evans, Events and Partnerships Manager at The Forum Trust, said: “It’s always a magical day when we switch the lights on our magnificent tree, and we are so grateful to the talented team from Taverham Nursery Centre for donating and decorating it so beautifully.
“There are so many dinosaurs lurking in the branches and around the base of the tree and there’s event evidence that an explorer was brave enough to venture into the prehistoric undergrowth, make sure you take a look!
“We decided to make it a dinosaur tree to mark Dippy’s visit to Norwich Cathedral next summer, with the whole city set to go dinosaur crazy in 2020. The world famous diplodocus skeleton has stood in the Natural History Museum for generations and we were also pleased to welcome the cathedral’s homemade dinosaur, Ploddy, to our switch on event.
“So tell your friends and families about our dinosaur tree, which also features a Triceratops from Roar!! Dinosaur Adventure in Lenwade, and please everyone give generously to this great cause and make Elliot’s tree collection the best yet.”
Karen Drane-Steel, a partner of Taverham Nursery Centre, and her husband Matthew Steel who manages the nursery, said: “It’s the fourth year we’ve donated the tree and each year we have come up with a different theme. It was quite a challenge to get all the decorations and we had to source things from all over the place, but we rose to the occasion.
“Over the year we collected lots of parts and staff made decorations for it and when we put it all together it looked amazing. It was very much a team effort with all the staff contributing.
“My dad Roy came up every year with us while we were decorating and it is a great honour to have this tree for him and for the charity Friend in Deed because it means so much to us.”
Kelly Lindsay, Director of intergenerational charity Friend in Deed, said: “To have been elected as the charity to be supported by Taverham Nursery Centre means so much to us. We are a new charity and we’ve only been running a year, so it is really good for us to be part of this not only to receive the funds that are generously donated but also to talk about what we do and try to get more schools involved with us so we can try to prevent loneliness for older people.
“It was extra special to have our intergenerational choir performing. They’ve been practising for four weeks and they performed five magnificent songs, so we couldn’t be more proud of them. And what was wonderful about it was the sense of community it portrayed which is everything that we are about – younger and older people spending time together.”
The tree and dinosaur decorations were kindly donated by Taverham Nursery Centre, and the event was also supported by ROARR! Dinosaur Adventure.