The countdown to Christmas is set for a spectacular start in South Tyneside next week, with local heroes taking centre stage at this year’s festive lights switch-on event.
As a way of paying tribute to those who supported their communities during the coronavirus pandemic, local heroes will be performing the official honour.
Mayor of South Tyneside, Cllr 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 kickstarting 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.”
A handful of local heroes are set to be honoured with the lights switch-on event.
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.
He was also selected as an official starter for the Great North Run and was honoured as one of the NHS heroes, in recognition of efforts from 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 which is set to take place Wednesday 24 November from 5pm to 6pm in the marketplace.
The event will feature a range of entertainment including music from local performers Jen Stevens & The Hiccups and the South Shields Serenity Singers and Choirmaster. 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.
The pair will help perform the Jarrow town switch on, on Friday 26 November at Jarrow Town Hall from 4pm to 5pm. The evening will feature a brass quartet, Jarrow Cross C of E Primary School choir and magic from Mr Merlin.
Hebburn schoolboy Oliver Nicholson delivered little notes and treats to his elderly neighbours to keep spirits high during the first lockdown period.
Oliver will join the Mayor and Mayoress on Monday 29 November at Fountains Park from 4pm to 5pm. The Hebburn-based event will feature St Aloysius RC Primary School choir and a brass quartet, with funfair rides and a magic performance from Mr Merlin.
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 events are planned, with a Christmas Wonderland Fair weekend at Jarrow Hall from Saturday 27 to Sunday 28 November.
A Christmas Wonderland Parade is also set to take place on Friday 10 December at 5pm on Ocean Road, South Shields.
Families can get into the Christmas spirit with a Virtual Christmas Carol Concert 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.