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Dereham gears up for big switch-on

PUBLISHED: 14:07 26 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:31 07 July 2010

Ian Clarke

A skating rink, live music from talented local acts and a group of children with heart-warming stories.

They are among the attractions on offer thousands of people who will pack into Dereham Market Place on Sunday as the town's Christmas lights are switched on.

A skating rink, live music from talented local acts and a group of children with heart-warming stories.

They are among the attractions on offer thousands of people who will pack into Dereham Market Place tomorrow as the town's Christmas lights are switched on.

The 11m x 22m rink will be in front of the cinema and be available from 1pm. Sessions lasting 20 minutes will cost £1.

Charity stalls, the fun fair and the craft fair in the council chamber will also be running from 1pm, as will the programme of live entertainment on the stage, which this year will be front of the off licence/Barnado's shop facing into the Market Place.

Those performing are David Woodgett and Friends, singing duo Beth and George, Roger James and His Amazing Student Band, Keely Rayner and the Mid Norfolk Singers with clarinet quartet.

Santa will be in his grotto in Barclays Bank from 2pm.

The lights will be switched on at 4.30pm.

Six-year-old Gabriel Clarke, from Theatre Street, Dereham, will have the all-important job of pressing the magic button that will illuminate the town centre after he was revealed last week as the winner of the competition run by our sister paper the Dereham Times.

Gabriel, who was born at just 24 weeks and has been diagnosed as autistic, has chronic lung disease and has been in and out of hospital with lung-related illness.

But, despite everything, Gabriel is a happy and friendly little boy, and his fascination with pressing buttons and seeing lights flash means that winning the competition is a dream come true for him.

Other youngsters whose stories impressed judges will also be on the stage.

David Ovenden, chairman of the Dereham Christmas Lights Partnership, said: “There will be something for all the family to enjoy from live music to the extensive fun fair, Santa's grotto, various charity and craft stalls and for the first time an 'ice' skating rink, culminating in the big switch-on at 4.30pm. It's a great day out and attracts some 3500-4000 people into the Market Place during the course of the afternoon.”

For more information contact George Hayes on 07884 263241 or e-mail; ghayes2098@aol.com.

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