A CHRISTMAS campaign to encourage townsfolk to "shop local" has been launched in Ashbourne.
The first Ashbourne Christmas Crawl began on Monday, after the town's Traders Group joined with independent businesses in the town centre to host the treasure-hunt style contest.
The crawl links in to a national scheme which promotes a "shop local" message and is backed by retail champion Clare Rayner.
The Ashbourne Christmas Crawl encourages shoppers to visit independent businesses in the town centre as they hunt out clues which will enable them to complete an entry form in a bid to win prizes of up to £200.
The crawl will run right up to the end of business on Christmas Eve with a prize draw taking place in January.
Prizes of £25, £50, £100 and £200 will be given in Ashbourne Vouchers which can spent at participating retailers until March 2013.
The idea behind the scheme is to inject a little fun into Christmas shopping while encouraging people to explore the independent retailers in their home town and boosting footfall for all the businesses in the town centre.
Paul Taylor from The Olive Tree in St John Street is the Local Activation Partner for the Ashbourne Christmas Crawl. He said: "The current economic environment is very tough for independent businesses, with some in the town struggling to survive.
"We are trying to help make Christmas shopping an exciting and more enjoyable experience and hope it will help to boost footfall in the town at this very important time of year.
"We are very grateful to Ashbourne Town Council for sponsoring this event and Ashbourne Partnership for their support in making it happen."
This initiative is part of the National Celebrate an Independent Christmas campaign established by Clare Rayner, The Retail Champion.
Ms Rayner has long been a respected voice in business and has frequently appeared on television and radio in her role as a business consultant.
She said: "I am pleased to see that Ashbourne has established a Christmas Crawl, this is one of over 40 similar events that will run across the UK.
"We hope these events will help reintroduce people to the high street and let them experience some hidden gems."