BOISTEROUS locals put themselves at risk by scaling a town’s Christmas tree – and damaging it.

The six-metre-tall artificial tree is erected in front of Dunbar Town House each festive season by a team of volunteers who create the town’s lights display.

However, last Wednesday, days before the lights were due to be taken down, volunteers noticed that the tree had been damaged.

Cabling and ‘foliage’ within it was damaged by people’s hands and feet after they had attempted to scale it.

Graham Adams, chairman of the Christmas lights committee, told the Courier that the damage would increase pressure on the volunteers’ ability to produce the annual light show.

He said: “Fundraising was less than we hoped to get, which puts pressure on this year for fundraising more.

“We got some storm damage and a couple of people have tried to climb the tree, which has caused a couple of hundreds of pounds’ worth of damage.This is the biggest display we have had to date.”

Mr Adams was unsure when the damage had been caused or if it had been captured on CCTV.

He added: “It’s unnecessary expense that we are having to bear. The tree is not designed to be climbed and they are going into climb and they could do themselves a mischief.

“We don’t want to see anyone get hurt; it is a fine line between being silly and potentially a serious injury.”

The Christmas lights display attracted national attention and was included in a picture gallery alongside displays in Rio de Janeiro and Vancouver.

The display, which stretched down to the town’s harbour for the first time, is the hard work of volunteers each year.

Traditional fundraising has been made difficult by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Adams, who works at Torness Power Station, said: “We have had to rely on grant applications rather than what we could do for fundraising.

“We have not been able to do quizzes or race nights.”

The cost of the Christmas lights is estimated at about £10,000, with that figure expected to increase to cover the storm damage and vandalism of the tree.

Already, volunteers have launched their latest fundraiser, which is looking for people to help complete five million steps before the end of February.

The Lapland Step Challenge follows on the heels of a virtual cycle in 2020, which saw volunteers clock up more than 2,000 miles – the distance from Dunbar to Santa’s Lapland home. On that occasion, former East Lothian resident Robin Tremmel, who lives in Finland, helped them reach the finish line.

Now, the former Preston Lodge High School pupil is getting them started.

Paul McLennan, MSP for East Lothian and a Dunbar councillor, was upset by the damage caused to the tree.

He said: “It’s extremely disappointing.

“Volunteers put in a huge number of hours, not just at Christmas time but they are doing it every single week to maintain what is there.

“They fundraise, they maintain, they put the lights up, they take them down, and to hear of people doing this is disappointing.”

To support the Christmas lights committee and make a donation, go to