Return of Hinckley’s Christmas light switch-on sees ‘record breaking’ attendance figures

Mason Moore & Vaughan Moore | 20 November 2021

A RECORD BREAKING number of town-goers showed up to celebrate Hinckley’s Christmas light switch-on last night (19 November), which was held in Market Place to mark the start of the festive season, according to bosses at the Borough Council.

(Image: Mason Moore)

The night was kicked off with on-stage entertainment at 4pm from local primary school, St. Mary’s School, followed by Hastings High School, then further performances from Rock Choir and Hinckley Choral Union.

During the night, a varied selection of food and drink stalls were open to keep those in attendance fed throughout the night – ranging from fudge, German sausages, doughnuts, and cakes for those to enjoy.

Members of the Royal British Legion and Hinckley Ex-Servicemen’s Association held a two minutes’ silence at 6.06pm inside on Station Road’s Remembrance Garden.

Hinckley and Bosworth Mayor, Coun. Ted Hollick, took to the stage at 6.15pm, where he greeted the residents and town-goers in attendance.

Ted Hollick described the light switch-on as ‘spectacular’. He said: “I’m delighted to be celebrating the light switch-on with residents. This is our most popular event and it has been wonderful.”

Key event: Switch-on

The lucky ‘local hero’ who had the privilege of switching the lights on, nine-year-old Desford resident, Pollyanna Bland, made her way to the stage ready to switch on the lights alongside the Mayor and Fosse 107 boss Mark Foster.

Mark Foster had explained that Pollyanna had been nominated for her efforts in helping to keep her local village clean by collecting litter around the area.

She then proceeded to light up the town at approximately 6.30pm.

Pollyanna, Ted Hollick and Mark Foster switch on the lights (Image: Mason Moore)

Watch the switch on

The Free Press were lucky enough to capture the switch on with exclusive video footage.

Managing Director of Fosse 107, Mark Foster, said: “It’s great to be back – it’s been a long time with no events. Lovely to turn on the lights and celebrate the Christmas season.”

This was then celebrated with a fireworks display inside of the nearby Argents Mead park at 6.45pm, just fifteen minutes later.

Many local figures were in attendance for the switch-on, including: Bosworth MP, Dr. Luke Evans, Council Chief Executive, Bill Cullen, Council Leader, Stuart Bray and Executive Member for Housing and Community Safety, Michael Mullaney.

Once the lights had been officially switched on and the fireworks had gone off, three musicians continued performing for an extra two hours, through to 8pm.

These included former Hinckley United footy manager-turned-crooner Dean Thomas, Steven Faulkner, and Olivia Bevington.

Meanwhile, Santa Claus was in town, with his own Grotto and friends from Hinckley Round Table, making a return to the Tin Hat Fair, outside of Jasper’s, where he greeted youngsters – at just £4 a donation to go and meet him.

Santa’s Grotto (Image: Vaughan Moore)

Funds raised from visiting Santa go towards supporting local charity, Menphys, which works to support local Burbage-based Sketchley Hill Menphys Nursery School.

The Round Table also informed the Free Press that a new sleigh is in the works, after thirty-five years of the original being in use.

Karl Chadwick, of the Round Table, said: “The queues to see Santa have been to the top of Castle Street – we’ve been overwhelmed with the amount of children going to see him.

“All proceeds from the donations that have been given will go to a charity chosen by Hinckley Round Table.”

Karl further told the Free Press: “We’ll be having a new sleigh made for Santa’s visits across the streets of Hinckley this year – the last one is 35 years old, but the Round Table have been running Santa’s sleigh trips across town for a total of 65 years.”

Bosworth MP speaks to Free Press

Dr. Luke Evans in attendance (Image: Mason Moore)

Dr. Luke Evans, Member of Parliament for Bosworth, said: “It’s absolutely fantastic to see residents come out and celebrate after a difficult year. “We’re up for a record and I hope this is a sign of the years to come.”

Cat Stilling, Events Co-ordinator for Hinckley and Bosworth Borough Council, spoke to the Free Press, about the night.

She said: “I think the light switch-on is a great chance for the community to get together.

“53 students from St. Mary’s have come down to perform on-stage. It’s great that everyone is coming down to Market Place to celebrate.”

Key event: Discussion of ‘record breaking’ figures

Crowds gathered for the switch-on (Image: Mason Moore)

Council event staff had exclusively told the Free Press that they believe they had seen ‘record breaking’ attendance figures for the night compared to previous years.

This was later confirmed in a post made on social media sharing site, Facebook.

Council Leader, Stuart Bray, told the Free Press: “It’s fantastic and the Borough Council’s event staff do us proud. We’ve had a great turnout and it’s great to take part in what will be known as a fantastic event”.

Bill Cullen, Chief Executive of the Council, said: “Given the pandemic it has been fantastic to see so many people from the area and around come and support this fantastic event which showcases what we have to offer.

“It’d be great to see all who have came [to the event] support the many independent stalls and retailers who are staying open.”

Coun. Michael Mullaney, said: “There’s been a tremendous turnout – we’ve had a big number of people in the town and everybody is having a good night.

“The emergency services are out with their own stall and the police are keeping a policing presence, it’s good. The switch-on itself was my favourite part of the night.”

One attendee told the Free Press: “It’s amazing – it’s our first year here. Our daughters loved the rides and we’re really impressed. There’s so much more than we expected.”

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