THE GREAT Shipley Elf Hunt is taking place this Christmas season in a bid to boost footfall in the town centre.

It is hoped the elf hunt will turn Shipley into a destination for Christmas shopping, instead of somewhere one shopkeeper describes as a “stopping point”.

Children will be guided around the town centre by Santa hats, leading them to the skiving elves hiding in the town’s shops.

One lucky competitor, selected at random, could also be in with a chance of winning £100.

Victoria Whitfield, the manager of The Works, told the Telegraph & Argus: “Personally I just wanted a little sparkle back in Shipley, we’ve been a bit ‘grey’ for ages.

“The place you go through to get to Bradford or Leeds we need to be a destination for Christmas shoppers not just a stopping point.

“The elf hunt is all about bringing families into the centre, making it a bit of fun with an added bonus of a prize,” she added.

Another shopkeeper of 14 years is hopeful another Christmas event will remind people what the town has to offer.

Barry Cooper, who owns Perkins Jewellers, feels there is no better time to invest in Shipley’s highstreet and recently employed one of the town’s first working in-store jewellers.

There is a feeling that Shipley is “often forgotten”, he says, but many see this as a golden opportunity.

Barry said: “Shipley is often forgotten but it’s a great little town with loads of shops and a great community spirit.

“The real tree looks fantastic, after the great light switch-on on Saturday hopefully the elf hunt will just keep up the festive spirit.

“Shipley has a really surprising range of multiple and independent shops, plenty of choice for christmas.

“Since town centre management was lost to cuts a few years ago, Shipley has struggled. Baildon has a town council and Keighley has its “BID”.

“Any event that brings people to Shipley and lets them see the choice of shops can only help. I’ve just invested in a workshop and have a working jeweller in-store, as far as we know, for the first time ever in Shipley town centre.

“There are plenty people like me investing in Shipley, these events just help raise the town’s profile.

He added: “The elf hunt will hopefully remind people of some of the great shops we have.”

The competition is free to enter and forms can be collected from Perkins Jewellers, The Works or by printing off the form online.

When all the elves have been spotted, participants must drop their form off at the sweet shop in Shipley’s underground market where there will be a little treat waiting for Santa’s helpers.

The elves have brought their high jinx to the following shops: Crystal Box; Costa; EE; Butterflies; Little Stationary; Cats Protection; The Works; PDQ; Perkins; Yorkshire Sole; Card Factory; Cakes To Please; Skulep; Veritys, Cancer Research, Holland & Barrett; Interlude and the market.

Residents, politicians and businesses launched a campaign in October to bring a real tree back to the town centre.

Last year the Shipley Town Partnership used the last of their budget on Christmas in Shipley and, without the fundraising, there would have been no real tree stood tall and proud for all to see.

The metal tree used over the past few years was largely unpopular with locals.

More than £400 pounds was raised for the cause with a Just Giving page. Any remaining funds have been put towards prizes for the Great Shipley Elf Hunt.