Former Blue Peter presenter Peter Purves joined with Father Christmas to switch on the Christmas lights in Halesworth tonight.

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Mr Purves travelled along the Thoroughfare in a trailer as part of a procession through the town, with the Southwold and Reydon Corps of Drums leading the way.

Shortly before 5pm they stopped outside the White Hart, where Mr Purves addressed the crowd before starting a countdown ahead of the switch on.

Mr Purves said: “It is nice to see so many people here. I am delighted to have been asked to come along to help Santa switch on the lights in Halesworth.”

The procession continued through the town and up to the Market Place, with families walking along behind.

In the Market Place the Rev Liz Cannon gave a blessing before white and red fireworks lit up the night sky.

The evening concluded with a performance from Rhythm Factor, while families patiently queued up to see Father Christmas in his grotto in the town’s social club.

Rita Doughty, chairman of Halesworth Town Centre Group which is responsible for organising the Christmas lights, said she was pleased with how the evening had gone.

She said: “It takes a lot of hard work and for it all to come to fruition makes us very happy.”

Among the families enjoying the evening were Steven and Debbie Ling, and their children Georgia, 12, Hayden, 10 and Rubymae, five.

Mr Ling said: “It is a family tradition to come to the switch on. It is good for the town and we come to support it.”

A window spotting competition was also taking place, while there was a Christmas tree display at St Marys’ Church.

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