Loughton Town Council have responded to their decision to cancel their Christmas event saying the decision was “out of respect” following the fatal hit and run earlier this week.

The Countdown to Christmas event scheduled to take place on The Broadway, Debden tomorrow (Friday, December 6) was officially called off on Tuesday, December 3.

12-year-old Harley Watson, from Loughton, a Year 8 student at Debden Park High School, died after being struck in the fatal incident on Monday, December 2.

Two 15-year-old boys, one 13-year-old boy, one 16-year-old girl and a 53-year-old woman were hit by a car at around 3.20pm on Willingale Road, Loughton.

A Go Fund Me page to support Harley's family following the tragic event has raised over £52,000 in two days.

Loughton town clerk Mark Squires said that the decision amongst the council was almost unanimous.

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Harley Watson from Loughton died in the hit and run incident outside Debden Park High School, on Willingale Road, Loughton on Monday, December 2

He said: “The decision has been taken it’s a no-win situation in many ways.

“The incident occurred so closely to the date of the event and it is literally round of the corner to where it took place.

“A lot of schools had also pulled out who were meant to be doing their Christmas concerts at the event and therefore if they are not running their shows, it did not seem right to run the event.

“It’s very difficult, whatever we do not everyone will be happy with us, it’s really out respect for young Harley and the other people still injured as well.”

Mr Squire also noted that the decision to cancel was not taken lightly given the several months of preparation for the town’s festivities.

A carol signing service at Jessel Green which was also scheduled to take place on Friday, December 6, was also cancelled.

Loughton town councillor Stephen Murray also supported the decision not run the Countdown to Christmas event, saying: “I agree with the Town Council decision on the basis that there will be other opportunities for the community to come together and show their respects.

“To have a fun family event (even if it would have been started with a time of silence and respect) within half a mile of the incident and just four days later to me wouldn’t have seemed right.

“I understand that there will be different views and clearly the Town Council had to make a difficult judgement call which some in our community will agree with and others will disagree with.”

Several people took to social media to voice their dismay against the council’s decision, many saying that the event should act as a tribute to Harley.

Festive events to attend alternatively

Christmas events scheduled across the district this weekend have confirmed that they will still be going ahead.

St Clare Hospice’s 'Santa Run', is scheduled to take place on The Broadway, Debden, with a minute’s silence to be held at 12.30pm on Sunday, December 8.

Organisers said that they hope "to bring the community together and to show that there is some good in this world".

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A minute's silence will be held in memory of Harley Watson before the Debden Santa Run for St. Clare Hospice starts

Thomas Willingale School and Nursery, which is also in The Broadway, will be holding a short vigil with songs sung by the student choir before its Christmas fete tomorrow (Friday, December 6).

The school sent a letter to parents, stating: “At a time of great sadness, it is important to give our children and community the opportunity to come together and feel the closeness and support of each other.

“They will light up candles and The Reverend Petitt will lead in prayer. This will take place at 3.45pm in the Nursery Garden, please do come along.”

Finally, Epping Christmas Market will be open to the public from midday to 8pm tomorrow (Friday, December 2).

Epping Town Mayor Grahame Scruton will open this year’s festive market and announce the winner of the Christmas window shop display competition along the town’s High Street.