THIS year's Christmas Star Appeal is set to be more poignant than ever given what the world and Bradford is currently going through.

In 2020, life has been gripped and restricted by the coronavirus pandemic.

It has been a period of great upheaval, change and hardship, so what better time to come together as one and remember those cherished family members and friends this Christmas.

The Lord Mayor's Christmas Star Appeal gives people the opportunity to pay tribute to, and celebrate, a special person, all while supporting charity.

In exchange for a £5 donation, you can have the name of your loved one glimmering in the Broadway Shopping Centre Christmas tree throughout the festive period.

The Lord Mayor Councillor Doreen Lee revealed she would be putting up a Christmas Star for her daughter, Shelley (as she did last year), who died four years ago.

She thinks the initiative is "lovely" and champions the message it sends out.

The Lord Mayor said: "Every year when we do this, the numbers grow - people love it.

"You can come in, write the name of a person and see it hang up on the tree.

"This year it's even better because it's in the shopping centre and everybody will be able to see it.

"You don't have to make a big thing about it, you just put the name of a person that you love on a star that goes up on the tree for Christmas.

"I can't think of a better way.

"I've been putting my star on since Shelley died.

"Her children put a star on for her, so they like it.

"We always refer to mummy as a star in the sky.

"Her son with learning disabilities looks at the stars in the sky and says, 'there is mummy'."

Cllr Lee's tenure as Lord Mayor was extended by an extra year back in May and she will remain in office until May 2021.

This was thanks to the Covid-19 virus putting a halt to Bradford Council’s annual general meeting and mayor-making ceremony, where she was due to hand over the chains to her current deputy, Councillor Shabir Hussain, and the pandemic's disruption to her role.

The Lord Mayor feels the Christmas Star Appeal can bring some joy to Bradford and show that community is still alive and kicking.

She said: "I think this year, with all that's gone on, even more so it's got a little bit extra.

"That's the biggest thing, it does show that everybody is together.

"You can go in to sit there, look at the tree and talk to somebody and say, 'that's my star on there'.

"It's spectacular how it brings people together."

This "togetherness" will be helped by the Christmas Star Appeal tree's new location for 2020.

It usually is situated in City Hall, but the stars will take their place on the Broadway Shopping Centre Christmas tree instead this year.

It is a much more accessible setting, for those with stars and without, and it is a move the Lord Mayor wanted to make happen earlier anyway.

She said: "I hope it's something that catches on, year after year.

"It's a nice way to remember your loved ones at Christmas.

"It's something I wanted to do, one outside last year, but we didn't do it in time.

"Really this year, the pandemic has brought forth something I think is an even better way of people thinking about loved ones at Christmas.

"Normally it's in the city hall - it's very good and lovely but in The Broadway everybody can see it."

The money raised from the Christmas Star Appeal will go towards the two charities Cllr Lee has supported during her time as Lord Mayor.

These are, Child Bereavement UK and Pot of Gold.

The Lord Mayor said: "The money that we raise, let's not forget the money, it's going to good causes.

"It's child bereavement this year - children that have lost their mummies or loved one, they help them get over being bereaved, it's wonderful.

"We had to wait three years before the NHS could even attempt to look after our children because they were so busy."

If you would like to pay tribute to a loved one, you should follow the instructions on the coupon below (and in the photo gallery).

The closing date for nominations is Monday, November 30 and stars will be on display from Thursday, December 3.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: