A five-year-old from Cowie can’t contain her excitement after being handed a special birthday gift – giving Stirling its festive sparkle for 2019.
Clara-Louise Hamill, winner of this year's Christmas Lights Switch On competition

One week after turning five, Clara-Louise Hamill will switch on the city’s Christmas lights on Sunday (17 Nov) and ride alongside Santa in his sleigh for the popular reindeer parade through the city centre.

The St Margaret’s Primary School P1 pupil was chosen for the honour in a competition ran by Thistles Shopping Centre after being nominated by her gran, Vivienne, who broke the good news on Monday.

One million excited

Her mum, Heather, said: “Her gran phoned her and told her what she was getting to do and Clara-Louise turned around and said, ‘I’m one million excited – I’m going to sit with the real Santa!’

“So her reaction was a mix of shock and excitement as she found out the day after her birthday and she couldn’t believe she was getting another present.

“Clara-Louise already has a felt Christmas tree stuck up in the living room that she plays with almost every day so she’s really already really excited for Christmas. I think going in the sleigh with Santa is what she is most looking forward to.

“I’m sure has told some of her friends at school. I know the lollipop lady knows about it and she also told her headteacher, Mr Nugent, about it the next morning.”

Heather took Clara-Louise to last year’s Stirling switch on event, which signals the start of the city’s jam-packed festive calendar. This time she will be centre stage, with plenty of family support, including dad, Kyle, and her one-year-old sister, Savannah.

Enjoy all the activities

Heather said: “We normally go every year to the switch on and the kids love it as they enjoy all the activities, and there is always something for them to do between the Santa parade and the lights going on.

“I remember Clara-Louise was very entertained by the reindeer last year so she will be looking forward to seeing them.

“She loves all the attention so she will be in her element, and since her gran entered her for the competition, she will go up on to the stage with Clara-Louise to switch on the lights.”

Unmissable occasion

Gary Turnbull, Centre Director of Thistles said: “The Stirling Christmas Lights Switch On is a major event for the city and this year promises to be another unmissable occasion.

“We received over 100 competition entrants to turn the lights on and signal the official countdown to Christmas and we are delighted to congratulate Clara-Louise on being the worthy winner. We hope she enjoys her day and has a memorable experience.”

A magical and memorable day

Stuart Oliver, Senior Manager for Economic Development and Communities at Stirling Council said: “Stirling’s Christmas Lights Switch On is a special occasion that brings our communities together and attracts significant numbers of visitors into our beautiful city for the start of the busy and exciting festive period.

“Having a local child give Stirling its Christmas sparkle and sit alongside Santa in the parade really adds to the festive feel-good factor of the event, and on behalf of the Council, I would like to congratulate Clara-Louise on winning the competition and hope she has a magical and memorable day.”   

Clara-Louise will get the FREE event underway at 2pm, when she joins Santa and his reindeer for the traditional procession through the city centre.

Family favourites Funbox and singer songwriter Alix Muir - who reached X-Factor Bootcamp and has been involved in competitions such as Open Mic UK and Stars of the Future – will be among the headline acts on the main stage, before Clara-Louise steps back into the spotlight for big switch on at 5pm.

The on stage entertainment will get underway at 3pm, with the Stirling High School and Tolbooth Young Performers. At 3.45pm it’s Funbox, followed by Alix Muir who will build up the atmosphere ahead of the big moment.

Broadcaster Jennie Cook will also keep everyone entertained throughout the afternoon with festive fun and frolics. Elsewhere, the Big Noise Orchestra will light up the Stirling Arcade, and some of the best local up-and-coming bands will showcase their musical talent at a stage on Friars Street, outside Europa Music.

For more info on Stirling's Christmas Lights Switch On, including road closures and parking information, head here: http://www.stirlingwinterfestival.com/christmas-light-switch-on/

Picture details and background info: 

Photos show Clara-Louise Hamill, this year’s winner of the Thistles Stirling Christmas Lights Switch On competition.

Stirling’s Christmas Lights Switch On is supported by The Thistles and Go Forth Stirling (Stirling BID).

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