Top South Ribble chef bringing X Factor star Chico to Longton Christmas Festival

A top South Ribble chef has signed up X Factor star Chico to perform in a Christmas Festival at his historic inn.

By Laura Longworth
Friday, 8th November 2019, 5:28 pm
X Factor star Chico will perform at a Christmas Festival at The Golden Ball of Longton this month.
X Factor star Chico will perform at a Christmas Festival at The Golden Ball of Longton this month.

Restaurant boss Chris Buckley, who has previously worked for former Michelin-starred chef Paul Heathcote MBE, is hosting the event in at The Golden Ball of Longton, Liverpool Road, on Sunday, November 24.

The festival is part of a mission to help save pubs by revolutionising their image and putting them back at the heart of community life.

It will also raise money for charity Cash For Kids and act as a drop-off point for toy donations, as well as shoe boxes filled with treats for abandoned dogs and cats living in rescue centres this Christmas.

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Chris Wilson, who is part of the management team at the Golden Ball of Longton, said the upcoming Christmas Festival is part of a mission to put pubs back at the heart of community life.

"Longton is my birthplace and I'm proud of it so this event isn't just a flash-in-the-pan money-spinner," Chris said.

"We're trying to change the way people see pubs because they receive bad press and their old image is dying in the modern world.

"We're trying to think outside the box and give people a reason to come to their local. The Christmas Festival has lots of benefits for families and that's what drives us.

"This is the first time we're doing something like this and it's not being done elsewhere in the local area."

Chris said the pub is also supporting a Christmas charity appeal run by members of Facebook group, Animal Issues Leyland, who are collecting treats for abandoned cats and dogs.

Helping to pull in the crowds is singer Chico, of X Factor fame. He will offer a meet and greet at the festival from 4-30 - 5pm, before performing.

Also entertaining are duo Becky and Josh while the Preston Musical Comedy Society will be in costume for a meet and greet with children.

This full-day event will start with a veterans' small dog walk and wreath-making class, both at 10am, and there will be stalls selling items like crafts, gifts, plants and Christmas trees, plus a German sausage stand.

Fr Christmas will make a special VIP visit, a silver band with play carols and mulled wine will be served.

"We're trying to be trail-blazers so we offer events like crochet classes and dog walks.

"I'm not bothered if people are not spending money. I'm not doing this so I can go to Barbados. Pubs typify British life and I just want to get people back in them.

"They're dying out and some people feel weird about going into one. It's a cultural thing. People are healthier now and the home is such a wonderful place to be. It's safe and people are often scared to go out because of things like terrorism and general bad news.

"Plus, the high street is knackered, and how can we compete with supermarkets selling cheap beer?"

Chris Wilson, who is part of the Golden Ball's management team, said their aim is to make people feel safe in pubs.

He added: "They were once at the heart of the community so we're trying to create a nice atmosphere with staff who make people feel welcome and looked after."