It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas as little Chloe Gray turns on Pallion’s lights

Chloe Gray arrives on Santa's Sleigh to switch on the Christmas lights in Pallion, Sunderland.
Chloe Gray arrives on Santa's Sleigh to switch on the Christmas lights in Pallion, Sunderland.

The Christmas lights have gone on all over Sunderland and East Durham.

Pallion, Southwick and Peterlee all held their switch-on ceremonies as the Festive shopping period kicked into gear.

Peterlee Christmas Lights switch on in Castle Dene Shopping Centre, last night

Peterlee Christmas Lights switch on in Castle Dene Shopping Centre, last night

Little Chloe Gray was the star of the show at Pallion, joining Santa on his sleigh before doing the switch-on honours.

The six-year-old suffers from a condition known as Diamond Blackfan Anaemia, which affects just 700 people in the world, and is reliant on blood transfusions.

“She has not shut up about it for weeks,” said mum Francesca Bowser.

“She has just said it is the best day of her life.”

She has not shut up about it for weeks.

Francesca Bowser

Chloe’s only chance of a cure is a stem cell transplant but there is no match on the donor register - and her family has launched a drive to encourage people to sign up.

Visitors to the switch-on were able to give a DNA swab to see if they are a match.

Danielle Hardy, from blood cancer charity DKMS, said the response had been excellent.

“We were supposed to stay until 6pm but we actually stayed until seven because we were so busy,” she said.

Christmas light switch on in Pallion, Sunderland.

Christmas light switch on in Pallion, Sunderland.

“We had over 50 people sign up with us at Rowland’s Pharmacy and the second collection point up Pallion Road had people queuing outside, so it has gone extremely well.”

Thirteen-year-old Voice Kids star Courtney Hadwin, from Hartlepool, entertained the crowds at Pallion, while County Durham X Factor singer Sam Lavery performed at the Peterlee switch-on at Castle Dene before throwing the switch.

Entertainment at Southwick was more traditional, with the Southwick Community Primary School Choir and the Salvation Army Band performing before Mayor of Sunderland Coun Doris MacKnight did the honours.

Salvation Army band play at the Christmas light switch on in Southwick, Sunderland.

Salvation Army band play at the Christmas light switch on in Southwick, Sunderland.

The Mayor of Sunderland Coun Doris Macknight and Ebony Longstaff perform the switch on of Christmas light on Southwick Green, Sunderland.

The Mayor of Sunderland Coun Doris Macknight and Ebony Longstaff perform the switch on of Christmas light on Southwick Green, Sunderland.