AN evening of song and celebration in Reydon has led to organisers of the annual switch-on hailing this year’s event as the “best ever.”

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More than 300 people turned out on a cold Saturday evening - but the community were given a “warm glow” by the entertainment provided and “wonderful” lights that illuminated the village.

Reydon Lights Committee chairman, Anita Barbrook, welcomed the large and enthusiastic crowd to Reydon Corner and said: “The switch-on is a credit to the Reydon community who give us such wonderful support throughout the year. This is very much a community event and we thank you.”

Similar sentiments were shared by parish council chairman Barrie Remblance, who in addressing the audience, said: “It is lovely to see such a cracking turn-out.”

Mr Remblance then led the crowds in a countdown from ten to one - with loud cheers as the lights were switched on. “The lights look fantastic - aren’t they wonderful,” he said.

Carols, accompanied by Helen Price and the Handbell Ringers were then sung, before a performance by the village choir - Music Vox - and two songs by the Reydon Primary School choir.

The Vicar of Reydon, Rev Richard Henderson, then blessed the beautiful crib, reminding everyone of “the real reason of Christmas.”

Reydon’s Music Vox choir, led by Haleana Knight, and the Reydon Primary School entertained the crowds with special renditions of Away in a Manger, Winter Wonderland and Merry Christmas before everyone joined in with Santa Claus is coming to town.

After prayer, Rev Henderson said: “I just wanted to offer an enormous round of applause for our lights committee, who raise funds throughout the year; to those of you who have put up the lights and decorated the village for Christmas; to everyone who has been involved in tonight’s event and to all those in the village who have turned out - a round of applause to you all. Happy Christmas Reydon.”

For many years, a flying visit from Father Christmas has been part of the switch-on celebrations - and this year Santa Claus and his helpers from Southwold fire station shone brightly by arriving on a vintage fire engine decorated with hundreds of lights as he handed out small gifts of sweets to the very excited children.

Speaking afterwards, Kerry Holmes, from the Reydon Lights Committee, said: “The Christmas lights and Crib on Reydon Corner has been a beautiful beacon of light for decades. Community fund-raising takes place around the year to ensure the event goes from strength to strength – a real community effort. The feedback from villagers was it was the best switch on yet!”

With traditional carols, the switching on of the Christmas lights and the blessing of the crib and nativity figures having featured heavily every December on Reydon Corner for more than 45 years, this year’s “best ever” evening of entertainment was enjoyed by the villagers,

“The switch-on was fantastic and a real community event,” choir member, Amanda Humphry, said. Others added it was “lovely” to see the children and families “at the heart of the switch-on” celebrations.

“I think the whole evening was a success with the children’s choir, the handbell ringers and Music Vox giving everything a warm glow,” Mrs Holmes added.

The Reydon Christmas Lights committee also fund Christmas trees and decorations around the village, and this year a new tree was placed on the Halesworth Road at the junction with The Drive.