By Amy Farnworth
YOUNG and old braved the arctic conditions on Friday as the County Christmas Market took over the Tesco Car Park on County Road, Walton.
Various stalls and a Christmas Grotto were set up very early doors, with the market welcoming customers from 9am.
Former Everton legend and club ambassador, Graham Stuart, arrived at the market in the afternoon and helped switch on the County Road Christmas lights, before Francis de Sales Choir and dancers from Dance Passion provided on-lookers with some musical entertainment.
Maureen Delahunty-Kehoe from Love Walton C.I.C, who helped organise the market along with Walton Youth Project and local councillors, said: “We’ve had a steady flow of people since we opened this morning, and so far it’s been really good; it’s cold, but the sun is shining.”
Volunteers and workers from Walton Youth Project turned their mobile youth bus into a magical Christmas Grotto, and children from the local areas got the opportunity to see Santa and his elves, and tell him what they wanted for Christmas. They also received a selection box courtesy of B&M County Store.
Labour Party councillors Roy Gladden and Gerard Woodhouse helped fund the event, ensuring it was free for all in attendance, with zero charge for the Grotto and selection box.
Cllr Gladden said: “It’s important to work with community groups as it brings local people together.
“Festive times aren’t always a nice time for some people, with rising unemployment not helping financial situations, so to have something like this locally and for free brings a little positivity back to the area.”
Many local businesses set up stalls to sell their goodies and promote their services, including, A Basketful of Love; Kandy Prints; Started With a Stitch; Everton in the Community; Sure-Start; The Doh-Hut; and Sarah Darcey’s Delight.
There was also a stall from exciting new health-conscious, Walton-based business, Indigo Greens, who are Liverpool’s first ever restaurant quality vegan meal-prep providers.
Maureen said that she wanted to get people from every generation out and involved in the local community, supporting one another and socialising too; and having local businesses at the market would help provide a network for people in the area.
Julie Sabin, Community Champion for Tesco County Road, said: “I do a lot of work in the local community and the Walton community is amazing; everyone supports and looks out for one another; they’re like one big family.”
Despite the temperatures being at almost freezing point, the market got busier as the schools finished, and the determined stall holders stuck it out until the event ended at 5pm.
And with the kids from Francis de Sales Choir singing their little hearts out, and the brave dancers from Dance Passion giving a brilliantly choreographed performance, not even the weather was going to hamper the festive spirits of Walton’s residents.