TV COMIC legend Jimmy Tarbuck and former Bournemouth and Saints manager Harry Redknapp joined a huge crowd to mark the final switch-on event for Barton’s famed Byron Road Christmas lights.
Hailed as Britain’s most festive street by Daily Mail readers in 2016, the official switch-on celebration street party took place on Sunday when a dozen houses were illuminated in the dazzling display featuring 80,000 LED lights, nativity scenes, and life-sized festive creatures and working models.
Crowds were also treated to free mulled wine, mince pies and hot chocolate, and hundreds of children received a free bag of toys from Santa.
Since its launch 15 years ago the annual event has grown in magnitude and now attracts hundreds for an evening of live music, entertainment, celebrity guests, family games and a visit from Father Christmas.
Musical highlights included performances from Britain’s Got Talent semi-finalist Tony Rudd, Emma Hardy, the Mellor Sisters duo and Michael Buble tribute act Scott Haynes.
This year families counted down as Harry Redknapp and his wife Sandra were joined by ITV presenter Fred Dinenage to press the plunger to light up the row of terrace houses.
Masterminded by Byron Road resident Ged Hollyoake, who spends around two months constructing the incredible scene, the display has raised a whopping £80,000 for local and national children’s charities and good causes.
Also joining the celebrity guests on stage were Kim Black and her son Thomas Hazelton who has spastic diplegia cerebral palsy and is one of the three recipients of this year’s fundraising appeal. The other two charities to benefit are the Bournemouth Hospital Jigsaw Appeal and Linwood School for children with additional learning needs.
However, increasing organisational costs means this year was the last official switch-on event, although Ged will continue to construct the display for visitors to enjoy.
Ged’s son Jason Dean, a former BBC and Sky TV presenter, who hosted the evening, explained: “We have been running the switch-on for 15 years and my dad is not getting any younger.
“There’s a lot of work that has to be done including closing the road and organising the activities. My dad pays insurance costs and won’t take a penny from charity. It all equates to about £1,000 for just two minutes.”
Ged told the A&T: “The launch event was wonderful and I would just like to thank everyone who came along to support it. It was a great start to our charity fundraising.
“When one of our old neighbours heard it was going to be the last ever official switch on she travelled all the way from Blackpool to join us. Other friends travelled from Portland and even further away to be with us for the evening.
“I would also like to say a huge thank-you to my wonderful neighbour Mike Young who helps me with putting up the display every year and to all our special celebrity guests – who came along with no fees to help make the evening one to remember.”
The lights, which have taken Ged and his neighbours more than six weeks to construct, will be lit every evening from 4.30pm until 1st January. Visitors are asked to give a donation to the charity collection.