As Mansfield awaits the big Christmas lights switch on tomorrow, for one disabled child it will be an unforgettable experience.
Eight-year-old Lillie-May Holey has been chosen to perform the honour of switching on Mansfield’s Christmas lights on tomorrow (Sunday November 15), and it will be a double celebration for her family as the occasion also falls on her mum’s 31st birthday.
“It’s going to be great for Lillie-May. It will be such a treat for her, she has been through so much,” said her mum, Amanda Munt, from Forest Town, who explained that her daughter had experienced numerous touch-and-go visits to intensive care since she was born 17 weeks prematurely weighing just 530g (1lb 2oz) at delivery.
As result of her prematurity, the little girl suffers from various complex problems including developmental delay, is on oxygen and has a tracheostomy for chronic lung disease, and has heart problems.
“She ends up in intensive care regularly,” said Amanda. “And they always say ‘there is nothing more we can do’ and we think we may lose her and then she pulls it back somehow. She just gets on with it - she is such a smiley happy girl.”
Lillie-May won the switch-on experience for a child aged 5 to 11, thanks to the generosity of a Mansfield business which brought it as a prize in a charity auction run by Mansfield’s 103.2 radio station in aid of the John Eastwood Hospice Trust on Thursday 12 November.
Hall Fast Industrial Supplies, of Anglia Way, bid £1,500 in the auction for the switch-on prize, which it then donated to Fountaindale School in Mansfield as part of its ongoing support for the school, which takes pupils aged three to 19 who have complex physical and sensory needs. In three years the company has raised more than £60,000 for Fountaindale.
Lillie-May, who is a popular pupil at the school, was chosen as the lucky winner out of names of children pulled from a hat.
The switch-on prize was donated by Mansfield District Council and the Four Seasons Shopping Centre. As well as switching on the lights, the winner gets:
Passes for the switch-on VIP area
Goody bags for their family
A main prize presented to them on stage on the night
A Four Seasons Grotto Voucher for a VIP experience which includes the chance to meet Santa, have breakfast with him and his helper, free entry to grotto a gift and photo.
Lillie-May will be on stage for the switch-on with stars from the Mansfield Palace Theatre panto Aladdin, Paddington™, Mayor of Mansfield Kate Allsop, Youth Mayor Jake Baldry, Miss Mansfield Amy Bielby and Santa, and will push the button to turn on the lights and set off a magical firework display.
The biggest annual event in Mansfield’s calendar kicks off with free, fun and festive activities from 11am in the town centre and ends with the fireworks display just before 5pm.
There will be a circus skills and magic workshop in the Market Place at 11.30am and a chance to make an Aladdin’s hat or lantern at the Buzzy B Club in the Four Seasons Shopping Centre from 10.30am to 1.30pm. There will also be a free Aladdin-themed treasure hunt with goody bags to be won.
The entertainment will include performances by Razzamataz, Mansfield Rock Choir, Expressions Performing Arts. Ashley Rebanks, who will sing a selection of Michael Bublé and Rat Pack inspired Christmas favourites, and Feel the Noize, a local Slade tribute act.
On Westgate a Christmas market will have plenty of handmade gifts and treats including cupcakes, toys and jewellery, while in the Market Place the movie, Paddington, will be shown in two parts on large screens from 12.15pm.
At 2pm Santa’s horse-drawn sleigh will parade down Westgate from St John Street to the area next to the library as he makes his way to open his Toy Factory grotto at the Four Seasons Shopping Centre. Santa will be joined at intervals by Paddington™, Sammy the Stag and Four Seasons’ mascot, Buzz, as well as stars from the Palace Theatre’s Aladdin pantomime. There will be festive stiltwalkers and we’ve heard it may even snow!
Executive Mayor Kate Allsop said: “What a marvellous day on Sunday Lillie-May is going to have. I am sure it will be a truly unforgettable experience for her and her family. It will be wonderful day for everyone – so do come along and get into the seasonal spirit.”