LOOKING back through the news this week, there has been a distinct Christmas theme.

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As Christmas week gets nearer, it seems that the gamble over Christmas decorations in Ipswich has paid off. Not everyone likes them but there has been more interest in the town centre at Christmas than we have ever seen before. People have travelled here from miles away to see them – and after dark, when all the lights around the Cornhill are on, it looks and feels really rather magical.

Meanwhile in Kesgrave, residents of Deben Avenue, have put on a spectacular show for the Christmas season, lighting up the street with a stunning array of decorations. The festivities kicked off with a big community switch on event – complete with a live band and a visit from Santa.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without the Co-op Juniors and with their eighth Christmas Spectacular at Snape, 2012 sees the Ipswich-based group celebrate 70 years of entertaining Suffolk. With dancing penguins, pirates, princesses and fairytale characters, there was plenty of festive cheer all round.

The “Waiting for Christmas” concerts were held at the Spa Pavilion in Felixstowe over seven nights and the team behind the project was delighted with the response as more than 3,000 people attended a week of concerts, involving schoolchildren from all over Suffolk raising money for some of the poorest people on the planet.

In Sproughton, a revamped church hall marked its reopening with a festive party. All Saints’ Church Hall celebrated the occasion with mince pies, mulled wine and carol singers. The renovation was made possible thanks to a £49,551 grant from the SITA Trust.

A hospice which cares for children with life-limiting conditions has enjoyed yet another royal-related visit this week.

The Treehouse in Ipswich – which was thrown into the national spotlight earlier this year when the Duchess of Cambridge made her first public speech at the hospice – got into the festive spirit by welcoming two of Santa’s helpers, reindeers William and Harry.

A young cancer patient from Ipswich rubbed shoulders with royalty this week as a new specialist unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital was officially opened. Alistair Wheeler has just been admitted to the Teenage Cancer Trust unit at the Cambridgeshire hospital. The 23-year-old from Ipswich, said: “It’s great to know that I am in incredibly safe hands.!

A group of ITFC players visited children at Ipswich Hospital spreading festive cheer earlier this week. Visiting Bergholt Ward at the Heath Road trust, Danny Higginbotham, Cormac Burke, Ronan Murray, Bilel Moshni and Jack Whight, arrived bearing gifts for the youngsters.

After Ipswich Town were beaten 2-0 by Leeds at the weekend, Andy Drury is predicting a “promising future” under Mick McCarthy for the Super Blues. He believes the level of disappointment felt in the away dressing room at Elland Road shows how far the side have come in recent weeks and is calling on his team-mates to take the negatives from their first defeat in five and turn them into positives for the hectic Christmas schedule.

A husband and wife pair from Ipswich have been celebrating a series of dancing successes. Lorraine and Raju Arulanantham, of Norwich Road, came first in the Suffolk Latin Gold Cup Open 2012 Senior 2 category, topping off a year of dancing triumphs achieved against the odds and the victory meant the couple maintained their title for the 16th year in a row.

Kind-hearted golfers have given a school a boost this week. Members of Ipswich Golf Club’s ladies section raised more than £1,000 for The Bridge School which caters for children with severe, profound and complex learning difficulties. The money was raised through numerous raffles, ball draws and gifts from both members and visitors over the past year.

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