IF you've not made a start on the Christmas shopping yet, Amersham has just the thing for you - with traders offering you the chance to win a hamper worth £1,000 at the same time.

Jam-packed full of boutiques and independent stores, shop owners in the market town are launching their inaugural Christmas Shopping Crawl on Friday and Saturday.

For full details of how to take part in the prize draw, click here to go to our online edition of Elite magazine, then look at pages 17, 18 & 19.

Retailers are keen to spread the message about what Amersham has to offer, with co-ordinator Jen Garrity setting it up after being inspired by a conversation with a friend

Mrs Garrity, the owner of the Coco Marie boutique in Market Square, said: "I was chatting to one of my friends and I told her Old Amersham is great for shopping. She'd never thought to come here, even though she lives in Great Missenden.

"We thought the shopping crawl was a good way to bring people in who might be a bit nervous about going into boutiques or independent shops. There's an amazing range of shops in Old Amersham and we want to get the word out there."

The original crawl was the brainchild of retail guru Clare Rayner, based in nearby St Albans. Her idea originally took off in the USA as a follow-up to Independence Day, with a month long celebration of independent stores taking place Stateside from July 4.

Her idea was slower to take off in Britain but she spotted a gap in the market for a similar celebration to take place in the run-up to Christmas.

Scores of towns nationwide are now taking part in the Christmas crawl, from Camelford in Cornwall to Edinburgh in Scotland, and Amersham is the latest to join the list.

A total of 24 Amersham shops are taking part and shoppers are being set the challenge of visiting every participating store and getting a special map stamped at each one.

The plan is twofold - not only can shoppers enter into a prize draw to win a hamper worth £1,000, but business owners hope they'll have their eyes opened to the range of shops and goods on offer in the town.

The crawl takes place on Friday November 30 and Saturday December 1 but shoppers can pick up the maps from any participating retailer in the run-up.

For more details on Amersham's independent shops and the Christmas Crawl, type 'Old Amersham Indie High Street' into Facebook.