Festive golds, frankincense and fair

Rik Waddon and Natalie Jones with their medals
Rik Waddon and Natalie Jones with their medals

Chorley’s three medal-winning Paralympian athletes will switch on the town’s Christmas lights.

Sprinter Graeme Ballard, swimmer Natalie Jones, and her husband and cyclist Rik Waddon will have the job of pressing the switch to transform Chorley town centre into a winter wonderland on November 24.

Lights have already begun appearing on the town’s main shopping street as it prepares for a bustling festive season.

Chorley’s X-Factor finalist JonJo Kerr will also make a return to the stage after switching on the lights last year.

Rik and Natalie, who live together in Chorley and both competed in the London 2012 Paralympics, said: “We are both really excited to be invited by the council to switch on this year’s Christmas lights.

“After living in Chorley for so long it is good to put Chorley on the map with so many great achievements from London 2012.

“We are both looking forward to seeing everyone on the night and to say thank you for the support Chorley has given us.”

Graeme Ballard, who won a silver medal in the T36 100m, said: “I am delighted and privileged to be asked alongside Natalie and Rik to switch on the lights.

“It is a wonderful experience and I look forward to meeting the young children whom I hope we may have inspired to take up sport through our achievements this summer.”

Deputy leader of Chorley Council, Coun Peter Wilson, said: “We have had a fantastic year of sport with the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games and as a thank you for making Chorley proud we are delighted to have Graeme, Natalie and Rik turning on Chorley’s Christmas lights.

“The Christmas lights switch on will be the perfect opportunity to meet the athletes and show them how much we appreciate their hard work and determination to succeed in their chosen sport.

“I would encourage everyone to come along on Saturday November 24 as it will be a fantastic occasion with a brilliant stage line-up to entertain the whole family.”

The stage show will kick off at 4pm on Market Street where an action-packed line-up is planned, including Abba Forever and Lady Gaga tribute acts, JonJo Kerr and previews of CADOS’ Santa the Panto and Buckshaw VAMP’s Puss in Boots pantomimes.

In the run up to the stage show, Chorley town centre will have a Christmas food and craft market on Fazakerley Street from 10am, small fairground rides on Market Street and a special performance by Chorley Silver Band.