South Tyneside Heroes in Festive Lights Spotlight
The countdown to Christmas is set to get off to a spectacular start in South Tyneside next week with local heroes taking centre stage at this year's festive lights switch on events.
Hundreds of families are expected to gather for the return of the traditional lights switch ons in South Shields, Jarrow and Hebburn town centres. And, as a way of paying tribute to those who supported their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, local heroes will be performing the official honour.
The Mayor of South Tyneside, Councillor Pat Hay said: "The Christmas lights switch on events are real highlights of Christmas in South Tyneside and we are delighted to see them returning in their traditional format after what has been a difficult period for everyone. Our colourful Christmas displays are spectacular, creating a wonderfully festive atmosphere across the Borough and are sure to get the festive season in full swing.
"We are especially thrilled to be welcoming some very special people to join us on stage this year. Having our local heroes kick starting the festivities is a fitting way of thanking them and acknowledging the exceptional work they have done in our communities during some very difficult times. I'm sure the people of the Borough will show them the appreciation they deserve."
Dr Mickey Jachuck, a Consultant Cardiologist at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, has been a key supporter of the Borough's Beat Covid campaign, helping to explain how the vaccine works and address people's concerns. More recently, he was among the NHS heroes to be named as an official starter for this year's Great North Run, in recognition of the efforts of NHS staff during the pandemic.
Dr Jachuck will join the Mayor, and the Mayoress Jean Copp, on stage for the South Shields switch on event, on Wednesday 24 November, from 5pm to 6pm, in the Market Place.
The event will feature a range of entertainment including music from talented local performers including Jen Stevens & The Hiccups, South Shields Serenity Singers and Choirmaster. Customs House favourites Dennis and Achoo will also be making a special appearance. BBC Newcastle's Alfie Joey will compere the event.
Brothers Nico and Taz Ali, who run the Scotch Estate's Premier Top Shop, delivered food parcels to vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic, earning them a #LoveSouthTyneside Award.
The pair will help to perform the Jarrow town switch on, on Friday 26 November, at Jarrow Town Hall in Grange Road, from 4pm to 5pm. The evening will feature entertainment from Jarrow Cross C of E Primary School choir, magic from Mr Merlin and a brass quartet.
Hebburn schoolboy Oliver Nicholson delivered little notes and treats to his elderly neighbours to help keep up their spirits during the first lockdown period. These small acts of kindness led to him being crowned the winner of the #LoveSouthTyneside Awards.
Oliver will join the Mayor and Mayoress on Monday 29 November, for the switch on event in Fountains Park in Station Road, Hebburn. The event, running from 4pm to 5pm, will include festive songs and carols from St Aloysius RC Primary School choir and a brass quartet as well as funfair rides and a magic performance from Mr Merlin.
Colourful characters, street performers and entertainers from Creative Seed will be mingling with the crowds at each of the events and Santa along with one of his elves will also be making a special appearance.
Councillor Joan Atkinson, Deputy Leader of South Tyneside Council with responsibility for Culture and Leisure, said: "Our lights switch-on events in South Shields, Hebburn and Jarrow really set the scene for Christmas and help to spread much needed cheer across the Borough. We have also listened to residents and, as a result, we have expanded our festive lighting displays to include more of our communities.
"These are real community events and it's only right that we celebrate the wonderful people in South Tyneside for their incredible work during the coronavirus pandemic.
"We look forward to welcoming our local heroes to help us get the celebrations off to a spectacular start. I'm sure all those who attend will have a brilliant time."
Other key highlights of this year's Christmas Wonderland programme include the Christmas Wonderland Fair weekend at Jarrow Hall (Saturday 27 - Sunday 28 November).
The spectacular Christmas Wonderland Parade will take place onFriday 10 December, at 5pm, Ocean Road, South Shields.The parade, being delivered with support from Creative Seed, returns with a vibrant new look and includes an assortment of entertainment including the Spark! Drummers.
Families can also get into the Christmas spirit with the Virtual Christmas Carol Concert being streamed on the Council's YouTube channel on Friday 10 December.
The Market Square is also hosting special Christmas Markets on Friday 17 and Saturday 18 December, where shoppers can browse a variety of market stalls and enjoy street food, live music and entertainment.
Santa will be taking special visits from children at his Grotto in Haven Point throughout December.
Libraries, including The Word, Hebburn Central and Jarrow Focus, will also stage a series of festive activities and entertainment, from crafts and face painting to children's performers and local choirs. There will also be traditional entertainment in town centres such as classic carols and seasonal songs from school choirs and local bands.
South Tyneside's Christmas Wonderland programme is being delivered by South Tyneside Council, with support from BBC Newcastle, and aligns with the Council's key priority to support town centres, villages, high streets and hospitality.
For the full programme of South Tyneside's Christmas Wonderland programme of events visit www.southtyneside.gov.uk/christmas, follow on social media at www.facebook.com/southtynesideevents and Twitter @stynesideevents or look out for the Christmas 'What's On' guide available across the Borough, including council buildings and local libraries.
As Covid-19 remains a significant threat in communities, events will be subject to any Covid-related public health advice in place at the time to help reduce the spread of the virus.
People are encouraged to take up their vaccination offer, respect others and their space, wear face masks if they can't socially distance or in enclosed spaces (unless exempt) and take a lateral flow test before attending events. Those who are symptomatic or feel unwell should stay home and book a PCR test.