‘Snow’, an ambassador, puppets and a giant paper chain at North Walsham’s Christmas switch-on

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Her Britannic Majesty's former ambassador to Colombia, Sir Thomas Duggin, and his wife, Lady Jeanette, were the VIP guests at North Walsham's Christmas lights switch-on this evening.

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

The couple joined the hundreds who packed North Walsham's historic Market Place for the countdown which ended when 'Lady Jay', standing under the ancient Market Cross, pushed a button triggering thousands of sparkling lights into life throughout the town centre.

They included icicle bulbs draped around the roof of the Market Cross from which foam 'snow' floated gently down on the excited crowds.

Sir Thomas, who served as ambassador between 2001-2004, and his wife have lived in North Walsham for six years. Lady Duggin runs a business, My Specialities Ltd, making 'Lady Jay's preserves.

The switch-on was the culmination of an afternoon of entertainment which included live music from young local performers, Father Christmas in his grotto, fairground rides, charity and other stalls, and carols led by a Salvation Army band of musicians which ended the festivities.

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

North Walsham couple David and Melanie Monger were among the crowds with their four sons - Buddy, Eddie, Billy-Lee and Sonny - aged from 13 to 16 months.

'They like the rides and playing games - and seeing Father Christmas. We come every year,' said Mrs Monger.

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Inside the town-centre parish church families flocked to enjoy crafts, a musical puppet show about the Christmas story performed by members of the town's Methodist Church, and helped to make a giant 100m paperchain which will be draped throughout the medieval church over the Christmas season.

North Walsham vicar, Rev Paul Cubitt, said the church had been busy all afternoon with high demand for some of the attractions.

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

'We're getting ready for Christmas and it's been a lot of fun,' he added.

A new feature this year was a 14.5ft Christmas tree, donated by North Walsham Garden Centre, which is gracing the landscaped open space formerly occupied by the neglected eyesore building at 4a Market Street.

The tree was erected by Colin Jeary, chairman of the town's Christmas lights committee, and his team.

Mr Jeary and crew have been planning tonight's event ever since the last switch-on.

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Some 10 people have been giving up their time on Sundays since October to put up the lights and make sure everything went smoothly at the switch-on.

New additions this year included festive lighting motifs, including stars and angels, made by students at Great Yarmouth College.

'It's all gone according to plan - helped by the weather and North Norfolk District Council which let us have free parking for the switch-on,' said Mr Jeary.

? A total of 10 businesses entered this year's Christmas window display competition.

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

The winner, announced at the switch-on, is Good Reflections tanning and beauty salon, in Market Place Mews. Marion's hair salon, on King's Arms Street, was runner up and the Market Place QD store came third.

? Scroll down to enjoy our selection of photos from tonight's fun:

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE

Christmas lights switch on in North Walsham, Picture: MARK BULLIMORE - Credit: Mark Bullimore/Mark Bullimore Photography

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