March 9 2014 Latest news:
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Movie superstar John Hurt cast a glow over Cromer tonight when he took to the stage to turn on the town’s Christmas illuminations.
A huge crowd gathered in Church Street to watch the Dr Who star flip the switch on the multicoloured lights, with help from schoolboy Ollie Robinson.
Ahead of the countdown the cast of Cromer Pier’s Christmas Special - which is hoped to be back on next week after the pier was damaged in Thursday’s floods - joined town dignitaries, Mr Hurt and his wife Anwen on stage to sing traditional carols.
The large crowd added their voice to the chorus before sending up a huge cheer as Mr Hurt - wearing a bright red ‘Cromer Christmas lights festival’ sticker - made his way to the front of the stage.
He said: “I’m delighted to say that Cromer provides a big red button! I shall enjoy squashing that.
“I was asked if I wanted to say anything but when I look at these girls [the pier show cast] here, hardly got anything on I don’t think we need anymore versifying or anymore to be said.
“Let’s get on with the business of putting on the lights.”
Whoops and claps went up as the town burst into colour with thousands of lights, including those on the fishing net Christmas tree and the more traditional fir, which was put up earlier this week.
Mr Hurt was then whisked to the parish church hall for an autograph signing session, which attracted hundreds of fans - some of whom dressed as time lord Dr Who.
The lights have this year paid tribute to a local councillor and volunteer who was the driving force behind the annual event for nearly 40 years.
A new bell and angel among the lights have been hung in memory of Vera Woodcock, a founder member of the festive lights committee and its long serving secretary, who died earlier this year.
Half of a collection at her funeral was given to the lights committee, who used it to buy the two installations.
Lights chairman Paul Stowe said: “She was a fantastic lady. There is no doubt there would be no lights in the town without her work.”
“We chose an angel because she was one, and a bell because Jingle Bells was her favourite Christmas song - which she had played at the end of her funeral.”
The lights are near the parish hall. Mrs Woodcock’s daughter Caroline Smith was among the crowds at the switch on, and admitted to having a tear in her eye.
The Christmas festivities began earlier in the day with businesses laying on various activities, including an angel trail and traditional fete.
The entertainment continued as the skies darkened with a fairground ride for youngsters, music from a mobile organ and a Christmas tree festival inside the parish church.
Paul Stowe, chairman of the Christmas lights committee, said organisers were “really pleased” to have Mr Hurt involved in the event, and the switch on had attracted a good crowd.
“It’s lovely,” he added. “There seems to be quite a few people here and there’s a nice atmosphere. It’s the first time we’ve done it on a Saturday so it seems to have gone quite well.”