CROWDS turned out in force for the switching-on of Keighley’s Christmas lights.

People packed into Church Green on Sunday to celebrate the lighting-up of the town centre as the countdown to Christmas began in earnest.

The ceremony – and a spectacular fireworks display – were the culmination of a day of activities and entertainment.

A star for the day was little Dollie Gorringe.

The four-year-old, from Wilsden, helped ‘push the plunger’ to illuminate the town.

She was chosen to perform the honours following a Little Star search, through the Keighley News.

Dollie has Aicardi-Goutieres Syndrome, an incurable disease which usually results in severe mental and physical disability.

She is now having to be tube-fed through her nose and is on several types of drugs.

Around 400 children a year globally are diagnosed with the condition.

Dollie was joined on stage by her parents Chrissie and Luke and older brother Leighton, who has also been diagnosed with a mild form of the disease.

Chrissie said she was delighted that Dollie had been chosen to perform the switch-on and that the family had enjoyed a fantastic day.

As well as taking to the stage, Dollie received £250 in Keighley Independents vouchers to spend in the town centre.

Also helping to switch-on the lights was Hollyoaks and Strictly Come Dancing star Ashley Taylor Dawson.

He was in the Airedale Shopping Centre during the afternoon signing autographs before chatting to fans in Church Green and posing with them for selfies.

Plus there were performances from singers Nicole Walker and Jimbo Lynch and giveaways.

Pulse presenters from the Mylo & Rosie Show invited other special guests including Santa and town mayor Councillor Peter Corkindale to join in the switch-on.

The ceremony was followed by the fireworks finale staged by the locally-based award-winning Optimum Fireworks.

The day’s events – organised by Keighley Business Improvement District (BID), in conjunction with the Airedale Shopping Centre – included several attractions in the centre.

Bjorn the Bear, a life-size animatronic polar bear, prowled around with his herder Ursula and gave several shows.

Visitors were able to not only get up close to stroke and pat him, but also learn about polar bears and their habitats.

Bjorn has realistic movements such as blinking eyes, a sniffing nose, an opening mouth and live sounds.

He proved a huge hit.

Steve Seymour, the Airedale Shopping Centre manager, said: “We were delighted to welcome Bjorn to the centre.

“We wanted to mark this wonderful time of year with something extra magical and Bjorn the Bear certainly fits the criteria, especially as it offers people the chance to be interact with him.”

There were also stilt walkers and Christmas puddings mingling with the shoppers.

Keighley BID manager, Paul Howard, said it was a hugely successful day.

“We’re delighted with how everything went and the feedback we received from the public was extremely positive,” he added.

“There was a very good turnout, helped by the fine weather.

“Dollie and her family had a great day, which will provide some wonderful memories for them.

“The fireworks display provided a super finale to the day.”

Keighley’s late-night shopping, until 7.30pm, is next Thursday and on December 19. Parking in the Airedale Shopping Centre is free every Saturday this month, plus late nights after 3pm. It is also free all day on December 23, 24 and 27.