FIVE rugby celebrities put the sparkle into Bradford on Avon when they helped to switch on the town’s Christmas lights display on Tuesday evening.

Bath Rugby Club stars Matt Garvey, Matt Banahan, Ross Batty, Rhys Priestland and Luke Charteris hit the button to light up the town.

They were assisted by Harrison Gill, two, from Trowbridge Road, who won the BOA Business Buy a Sparkle competition, which raised £375 towards the Christmas lights funds.

The special guests switched on the lights at 6pm in front of a large crowd of more than 200 people in Westbury Gardens.

Bradford on Avon Mayor, Cllr David Garwood, who project-managed the display, said: “I am absolutely delighted with the effort that has gone into arranging this year’s Christmas lights switch-on.

“We hope this year’s display is really magical.

“We have increased the number of lights and we try to get things bigger and better every year.”

Kate Burbidge, of Burbidge Electrical, which installed the lighting display for the sixth year running, said: “This year, we have managed to light

Millie, the statue opposite Westbury Gardens, and restore the lights along the Town Bridge.”

Earlier, Hannah Tyrie, nine, from The Old Batch, had opened Santa’s Grotto in The Shambles, which has been organised by Bradford on Avon Rotary Club. Hannah was the winner of the Bradford on Avon Arts Festival’s competition to name the cockerel ‘Goldie’ on the top of Holy Trinity Church.

Two choirs – Wiltshire Heights Choir and Friends and the Courage Choir – sang Christmas carols in The Shambles and Westbury Gardens. There were also fair rides and other activities to keep children entertained.

As in previous years, the Christmas lights will be strung around the town and this year will also see the return of the sparkling Christmas globe lights hanging outside many of the shops and cafes.

Cllr Dom Newton, Leader of the Council, added: “The event is always a centrepiece and the chance for businesses and the town to showcase itself - this year is particularly special as our great hostelries are laying on specials for the night.

“Thanks to our Mayor, David Garwood, the Town Council team and all those businesses and individuals who have been involved in fundraising and supporting our Christmas lights.”

This year’s display has been installed by local company, Burbidge Electrical Contractors, who have used eco-friendly LED lights to ensure that Bradford on Avon remains as ‘green’ as possible.

In addition, traditional Christmas trees have been erected in Westbury Gardens, Lamb Yard, the Railway Station and outside the historic Tithe Barn. Bradford on Avon Lions Club has donated £500 towards the cost of these.

The Christmas tree in Lamb Yard has once again been designated as a ‘Giving Tree’ to collect donations for Julian House, the hostel for the homeless in Manvers Street, Bath, and Bath Cats and Dogs Home.

Rachel Jones, Head of Fundraising for Bath Cats and Dogs Home, said: “Bath Cats and Dogs Home is thrilled that thanks to local resident Chris Curtis there will be a “Giving” Christmas tree in Bradford on Avon again this year.

“This is the third year running that the Giving Tree has been in place and gifts of treats and toys for the animals in our care is so appreciated.

“This will make their lives a little happier this Christmas whilst they are waiting to find their new forever homes. Our warmest wishes to all those who are able to donate.”

Julian House area funding manager Cathy Adcock said: ‘Everyone at Julian House is extremely grateful for all the support from the Bradford on Avon community.

“The donated items to the Giving Tree are very needed and it’s also very encouraging for the men and women staying at Julian House to know that the community are thinking about them.”

Around the Town, there will be something for everyone, including special menus and offers at many of the pubs, cafes and restaurants.

Local group, Falling Fish, will also be playing a busking set in Lamb Yard while residents and visitors enjoy late night shopping.

To keep up to date with all things Christmas, and further events on the night, visit the Bradford on Avon Christmas Lights Facebook page

In the run up to Christmas, on Saturday 2 and 9 December there will be free parking in Barton Farm, Bridge Street, St Margaret’s and Station (zones A and B) car parks.