This years Leeds Christmas Lights switch on was in aid of the ‘Save the Children’ charity
By Harry Graham and Alex Armitstead
Like every year, thousands of people crammed into Victoria Gardens to witness the Leeds Christmas Lights switch on. With a crowd of around 20,000 people, the event certainly didn’t fall short of expectations.
Hosted by Radio Aire, the annual festive event saw a wide variety of entertainment, ranging from live performances from Mickey P Kerr, a 2018 Britain’s Got Talent finalist, to appearances from the England and New Zealand Rugby League squads.
However, the main focus at this years event was the ‘Save the Children’ charity. Kelly Maton, the Community Fundraising Manager for ‘Save the Children’ Yorkshire, said it is an organisation that “believes every child deserves a future. In the UK and around the world, we give children a healthy start in life, the opportunity to learn and protection from harm.” They have helped 30,000 children in the UK as part of their families and schools together programme.
In aid of the charity, 16 year old, Emeli Mumford, who attends Prince Henry’s School in Otley, performed her original Christmas single, ‘Dear Santa’.
Regarding how the charity formed a partnership with the event, Kelly stated that, “Emeli approached the organisers of the light switch on to perform the song with the Dear Santa Choir. All in the lead up to the song being launched across all major platforms. Available to be downloaded on the 1stDecember.”
The choir consisted of 40 children ranging from ages 4 to 13, and put on a great spectacle for the on-looking Leeds crowd, adding to what already was a festive atmosphere.
With the song being performed at such a high profile event, Kelly believes that it can only be a good thing for the children’s charity. “We were able to have a slide up on the big screens and also allowed to leaflet at the event. This is hard to measure but it’s a great opportunity for coverage for Save the Children and will go on to raise the awareness of our charity.”
She also went on to say that “it was a great opportunity for us as a charity to have a presence in the local areas and for people to see local people fundraising for us.”
Josh Warrington, known as the ‘Leeds Warrior’, whom recently won his world title bout at Elland Road, was given the responsibility for turning on the Christmas lights, sending Leeds into the Christmas spirit.
Speaking to Leeds Live, Harrington said, “I’m a very proud Leeds lad and this year has already been a fantastic year for me, making history for the city and becoming Leeds’s first male World Champion. It’s going to be an absolute pleasure to be turning on the Christmas lights and getting everyone into the spirit of Christmas.”
Special mentions must also go to other guest appearances; Lord Mayor of Leeds, councillor Graham Latty, who appeared alongside the new Children’s Mayor, Rio Abbott. As well as CBeebies presenters, Alex Winters and Katy Ashworth, who led a festive singalong. Put together, the Leeds Lights switch on was a cracking event to open the Christmas Calendar.