A CROWD of 500 people watched as Bradford on Avon’s first Shining Light community award winner Gail Keverne and her grand-daughter Kaya switched on the town’s Christmas lights display.

The countdown just before 6.30pm in Westbury Gardens marked the start of the town’s Christmas and New Year festivities, with the centre aglow with lights and retail shops staying open until 8pm.

Mayor, Cllr Alex Kay, told the assembled throng: “I hope you have been enjoying the music, the stalls and Santa’s Grotto in The Shambles - or maybe a festive drink or two and a meal in one of our excellent establishments.

“We’ve finished the wonderful Countdown to Peace and now, on the last day of November, we’re ready for the Countdown to Christmas.”

Residents said this year’s lights and entertainment were “bigger and better” than ever.

Mike Brydon, who attended the switch-on with his wife Caroline, and two children Joshua and Lucas, said: “There are so many people here, I could hardly hear the countdown. It’s just nice to be part of the community watching it.”

Jane Hill, from Bath, was there with her husband, Danny, daughter Rosie and grand-daughter Florence, 7, who live at Barton Orchard, Bradford on Avon.

She said: “It’s amazing. It’s bigger and better than I have ever seen. They have made such an effort and have even got an inflatable stage for the music.”

The entertainment included Shannon Kitchen, who appeared in The Voice TV programme in 2017, and Sticky Toffee Jazz.

Betty Twinkle was also out and about in the town on her festive robin spreading merriment and cheer.

Local MP Michelle Donelan, cut a ribbon to open donations to the Elizabeth Rose Giving Tree in Lamb Yard for Bath Cats and Dogs Home, The Hub and Julian House.

Other activities included funfair rides, a candy floss stall and refreshments,The Coffee Girl, face-painting and glo-sticks for the children.

The Bradford on Avon Preservation Trust and the Bradford on Avon Lions Club sponsored the town’s two Christmas trees.

Moulton Bicycles and Jones Hill financial planning sponsored two bikes with light displays.

The light was installed by local contractors Burbidge Electrical,, with help from local business sponsorship and a £1,500 grant from Wiltshire Council’s Bradford on Avon Area Board.