More than 400 children were welcomed to the Maybury Gardens' Christmas garden centre on Thursday, November 23rd. 

Yet six years ago, it was a total of 60 island youngsters who enjoyed visiting Santa at the first Lights Switch-On at the North Street, Sandwick centre.  

"Every year it just seems to get bigger and better and this year was no exception," said Maybury's Alison Carty.  

"We had 400 children visit Santa, each received a selection box present, and around 1,000 people over the day. 

"There were a group of ladies that Horshader Community Development brought on a bus to take people into town, so we were delighted to have folks from all over Lewis coming to join us." 

During the day-long event, island youngsters got the opportunity to meet Santa, and crowds were entertained by dancers from MacKinnon Highland Dancers, with Peter MacKinnon Piping; the North West Allstar Cheerleaders dancing a scene from The Nutcracker as part of the upcoming Ballet Hebrides production, and a huge firework display. 

Local musical talents Eleanor Nicolson, Iain 'Spanish' Mackay and Jane MacMillan and Friends each took to the Maybury stage whilst Michaela Smith's face-painting skills went down a treat with younger visitors. 

Enjoyed by all, the 6th Annual Maybury Gardens Christmas Lights Switch-On raised a total of £2,000 for Bethesda Home and Hospice, as Alison’s husband David added: "We are always overwhelmed by the generosity each year and would like to say a big thank you for the amount raised for Bethesda – it's a fantastic total. 

"For us the Lights Switch-On is about giving a little something back to the community who support us all year round. It's a small wee something from us, to invite the community to come out, enjoy themselves, and welcome in Christmas." 

Running the popular garden centre alongside Alison's parents Irene and David Iain, the Maybury Gardens team are something of Christmas specialists – Alison and David travel to Harrogate each January to spend three days browsing, selecting, and purchasing their Christmas stock for the following year. 

"We love going to the trade markets as we get to see, feel and check out the quality of the products," said David. "Basically if we wouldn't buy it for ourselves, we won't stock it for our customers, it's that simple." 

He continued: "A lot of the products we stock we also use around the centre and shop – our outside lights for example have been up for the past six years and are still going strong, so we know from our own experience that what we're selling is a suitable and offers value for money. 

"A good choice of good products at a good price – that's what we offer." 

Again a one-stop-shop for all things festive this Christmas, Maybury Gardens is decked-out in all its yuletide splendour with decorations and ornaments galore. 

A huge range of Christmas lighting, including battery-powered LED lights, as well as heavy duty outside connectible lights, and projector and laser lighting is also available. 

And with an extension to the centre's outside stock space, the team have increased their range of Christmas trees, as David said: "Our real Christmas trees have been going out the door fast again this year, but with more space for display we've more artificial trees on offer, and they're also proving very popular. 

"Again, having them on display let's people see the tree, touch it and feel for themselves the quality and that's what's important to us, that people can see and feel what they're buying before they purchase." 

Literally offering the local touch, and lighting up the 2017 Christmas party in style, Alison and David added: “A huge thank you to all our customers and supporters over the past year – and a very Merry Christmas to all!” 

To find out more, visit Maybury Gardens on North Street, Stornoway, or visit the website at www.mayburygardens.co.uk