Hundreds tune in to virtual Bridgnorth Christmas lights switch-on

More than 650 Christmas-craving residents tuned in online to watch a market town's festive lights switch on.

Bridgnorth Christmas Lights 2019
Bridgnorth Christmas Lights 2019

The virtual event took place in Bridgnorth and saw eight-year-old Tilly Russell press the big red button from the comfort of her own home.

As described through the Bridgnorth Town Council live stream, with the help of some 'Christmas magic', the town was illuminated the moment the Castlefields Primary School student flicked the switch.

Organised in the absence of the town's annual switch-on event which was cancelled in light of the pandemic, the live stream was hosted by Dan Bradley and Jon Garbett and began with festive poetry read in a pre-recorded message by students from St Leonard's, St Mary's and Castlefields primary schools, before Rev Simon Cawdell spoke to bless the lights.

Mr Cawdell said: "It is my pleasure to bless these lights on behalf of the churches of Bridgnorth."

Rev Simon Cawdell, mayor Kirstie Hurst-Knight and deputy mayor Sarah Barlow

Deputy mayor and Castle ward representative Sarah Barlow added: "Welcome to Bridgnorth Christmas lights 2020, wishing you a peaceful and merry time, and here's to more sparkle."

This was followed by the mayor of Bridgnorth and East ward representative Councillor Kirstie Hurst-Knight, who introduced this year's guest of honour.

Councillor Hurst-Knight said: "Good evening. I hope we all end up having a safe and happy Christmas.

"I have the honour as your town mayor to hand you over to Tilly, our guest of honour, to officially turn on Bridgnorth's Christmas lights."

Tilly, who had been battling cancer throughout 2020 before being discharged from Telford's Princess Royal Hospital earlier that day, was helped by her brother sitting in front of their seasonal fireplace at home to turn on the lights.

Tilly Russell ready to light up Bridgnorth

Anticipation built during a countdown from 10 which echoed throughout the market town before the red button was pressed and Bridgnorth lit up the November skies.

Sally Themans, of tourism campaign Love Bridgnorth, which also livestreamed the event, was beside the Christmas tree at the Town Hall watching the evening's events unfold.

She said: "The lights are on and it worked absolutely perfectly.

"People are watching the stream on their phones and lots of people are feeling engaged with this virtual light switch-on in the streets.

"I hope everyone has a very safe Christmas. I hope you can really find it in yourself to support our retailers; they've worked so hard during this very difficult year to keep things going and keep things safe."

The contemporary event saw a penultimate performance of Santa Claus is Coming to Town by Bridgnorth Ukulele Band before culminating with Aaron Alvey performing Band Aid's Do They Know It's Christmas.

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