The Festival of Christmas Trees and Uckfield FM by Michael Frost

How time flies!  Almost unbelievable that Uckfield FM has already reached a ‘significant’ birthday. 

What a tribute to all you folk for the many hours spent planning, and dedication and determination shown, to establish Uckfield’s very own radio station.  Often a topic of conversation has been “should the station be called Uckfield Festival Radio”, because it is known that it’s conception was so closely associated with the Uckfield Festival – that terrific event that has just grown, and grown, since it’s formation that was originally just to mark the Millennium.  However, if any body wanted to know how important local radio is to a community then I would say ‘just look at influence and effect local radio had with the Church of the Holy Cross Festival of Christmas Trees’.   For many years I had a close association with establishing and co-ordinating this annual event, and during that time I was fortunate to witness its evolution, and development, into the incredible Festival is today.  Witness to that is the complete cross section of Uckfield’s life and community that is represented.  At an early age of this Christmas Tree Festival Uckfield Radio undertook Outside Broadcasts on the Saturday morning of the Festival.  I have to say that in those days it was no mean feat to achieve this event, because the availability of Wi-Fi connection, the use of digital technology, and mobile phone networks were truly in their infancy, and meant that in order to go ‘on air’ at 10.00 am, a working party had to be at the Church by 7.00 am, and spend several hours in December’s dark freezing conditions setting up the aerial, laying cables, securing electrical connections, testing microphones, and checking the all important ‘live connection to the studio’.

The ‘meet and greet’ people at the Festival of Christmas Trees would ask of the visitors how they heard about the Festival.  It was not long before a clear pattern merged that many people came because they had either heard the ‘live interviews’ on Uckfield FM, or had heard the event mentioned in Uckfield FM’s ‘What’s On Guide’.  Then in later years when Late Night Shopping corresponded with the Christmas Tree Festival, and Uckfield FM hosted the Local Primary Schools singing carols in the Civic Square, the Presenters would frequently remind people about the Christmas Tree Festival.  The outcome has seen the visitor numbers grow year on year, and having over six thousand people visit each year is the norm.  Local radio serves our community and has such a positive effect on the community.  Of course the advancement of Technology has meant that ‘setting up’ for Outside Broadcasts can be achieve in a fraction of the time, and that’s important to those of us involved because no longer is breakfast eaten off a tray in the Church, but now taken as a sit down meal in the Belmont Centre.  Positive outcomes of Technology and positive outcomes for the Church through the support and encouragement of Uckfield FM.

 

With many thanks to Michael Frost for this article – Mike Skinner