A CANCER charity fundraising group has volunteered to improve Tyldesley's Christmas tree decorations and ensure they can no longer be labelled the worst in the country.

Our story about last year's Christmas tree and lights in the town centre being widely criticised made national news, featuring in The Times, The Sun and The Daily Express newspapers as well as on the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2.

A petition calling for Wigan Council to ensure that the town centre decorations are improved this year has been signed by more than 350 residents and Macmillan Cancer Support’s Wigan and Leigh fundraising group has vowed to achieve that in taking over the responsibility for organising a Christmas tree lights switch-on event at Market Square.

Fundraising manager Emma Pawluk said: “Our group made an enquiry to the council about organising the switch-on in Tyldesley this year because we had some ideas about what we could do to build it around the community.

“We have 300 baubles for £1 each which contain a personalised message to a love one that can either be taken home or put on the Christmas tree at Market Square.

“We are also encouraging shops and businesses in the town to decorate their windows in green and white in the run up to the event, which should look great.

“Children are being asked to come to the switch-on event in fancy dress for a best outfit competition.

“There will also be a Santa and sleigh at the event, which is supported by the Rotary Club of Tyldesley with Atherton.”

The living Christmas tree that was planted last year will remain the focal point for the switch-on event starting at around 5.15pm on Sunday, November 26, though it is now significantly bigger.

Resident Matthew James, who has started the online petition to have the tree and lights improved, said: "Many locals will tell you Tyldesley used to have a fantastic tree and lights.

"But, as many residents and businesses in Tyldesley have noticed, year after year our Christmas tree and lights have gone downhill to a point where we now feel a laughing stock.

"Last year we were left with half-working cluster lights on a couple of lamp posts.

"We valued our tree and lights as they brought a sense of Christmas cheer and spirit to the town.

"That feeling has slowly disappeared and we want it back."

As well as improved decorations there will be a range of stalls at the switch-on event which can be booked for a £28 donation, which could pay for a Macmillan nurse for an hour.

To book a stall or buy a bauble contact Emma on 07473 600273 or via e-mail at epawluk@macmillan.org.uk.

To make a donation visit justgiving.com/fundraising/aimee-morris5.