REMEMBER the days when a worldwide pandemic was the stuff of science fiction?

It is certainly nothing the people in these photos would have or could have predicted as they celebrated the annual Whitehaven Christmas lights switch-on and end of term nativities and concerts.

These photographs were from our 2015 archives and show the enthusiasm with which not only the organisers, but also the general community got involved.

There were clowns and crackers, Santa and Snowmen and plenty more besides.

It does not matter whether it is Regent Street in London or a village Christmas tree lights being turned on. There is something about this winter festival that gets everyone in the spirit of Christmas.

Adults and children alike, will suddenly believe in the power of Santa and of Christmas.

Streets are crowded. People are huddled together like Antarctic penguins in sub zero temperatures.

Even that huddling has become almost foreign in the last nearly two years.

Now we tend t avoid rather than touch and even those we love - grandparents, grandchildren and extended family - are now kept at arms' length more often that they get a hug.

It is a strange new world we live in and maybe we will never go back to what used to be normal.

B ut Christmas will still come around each year and, with it, the irrepressible spark of hope.

This year some town revived the Christmas lights festival, while still trying, in some shape or form, to remain as covid safe as possible.Now, this Christmas, we face the new Omicoron variant looks like super spreader.

In spite of it all, though, we wish you all a merry Christmas and a New Year you would wish for yourselves - free of the coronavirus.