Local talent led the charge as thousands turned out for Barnstaple’s Christmas lights switch on.

Queens Theatre Peter Pan panto dame Mrs Smee leads the crowd. Picture: Tony GussinQueens Theatre Peter Pan panto dame Mrs Smee leads the crowd. Picture: Tony Gussin

The eagerly anticipated event saw the bridge, Strand and Square absolutely packed last night (Sunday) with people and families to enjoy the show.

This year Barnstaple Town Centre Management steered clear of expensive celebrities and instead welcomed a string of home grown musicians to the stage.

They included youngsters from Centre Stage School, Bicycle Repair Man, Soulcraft and Sophie Kerslake with her band plus Sam Dowden.

Another bicycle repair man, Gordon ‘Gordy’ Webber, was chosen as the community hero to switch the lights on following a competition run by The Voice, as voted for by listeners.

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North DevonBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North Devon

But on the end all three shortlisted heroes joined panto dame Mrs Smee to conduct the switch on, with the family of Kiera Ball and fundraiser Andy Unstead all getting a hand on the button.

A special segment of the show also saw the launch of the Light Up a Life appeal 2018 for North Devon Hospice and Children’s Hospice South West, in conjunction with the Gazette.

Bicycle Repair Man on stage. Picture: Tony GussinBicycle Repair Man on stage. Picture: Tony Gussin

The Stagecoach ChemoHero bus at Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony GussinThe Stagecoach ChemoHero bus at Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony Gussin

Soulcraft perform at Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony GussinSoulcraft perform at Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony Gussin

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony GussinBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony Gussin

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on shortlist winner Andy Unstead says a few words. Picture: AW Photographic North DevonBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on shortlist winner Andy Unstead says a few words. Picture: AW Photographic North Devon

Kiera Ball's mum Loanna, once of the Barnstaple lights switch on shortlist winners, chats to Paul Hopper. Picture: AW Photographic North DevonKiera Ball's mum Loanna, once of the Barnstaple lights switch on shortlist winners, chats to Paul Hopper. Picture: AW Photographic North Devon

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony GussinBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony Gussin

Seth CFonway introduces the Light Up a Life appeal at the Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony GussinSeth CFonway introduces the Light Up a Life appeal at the Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony Gussin

Families onstage fro both hospices to support the Light Up a Life appeal launch 2018 at Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: Tony GussinFamilies onstage fro both hospices to support the Light Up a Life appeal launch 2018 at Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: Tony Gussin

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North DevonBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North Devon

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North DevonBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North Devon

Sophie Kerslake performs with her band at Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony GussinSophie Kerslake performs with her band at Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony Gussin

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony GussinBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony Gussin

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony GussinBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony Gussin

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony GussinBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony Gussin

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony GussinBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony Gussin

Gordon 'Gordy' Webber was chosen by the public vote to switch on Barnstaple Christmas lights 2018. Picture: Tony GussinGordon 'Gordy' Webber was chosen by the public vote to switch on Barnstaple Christmas lights 2018. Picture: Tony Gussin

Host Paul Hopper at the Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony GussinHost Paul Hopper at the Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on 2018. Picture: Tony Gussin

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North DevonBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North Devon

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North DevonBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North Devon

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North DevonBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North Devon

Barnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North DevonBarnstaple Christmas lights switch on. Picture: AW Photographic North Devon