MORE than 5,000 people turned out to enjoy Halesowen's Christmas lights switch-on - with the town’s home-grown talent Gregory Piper making a star appearance.

Gregory, who plays troubled teen Ryan Pilkington in the BBC drama Line of Duty and is from Halesowen, pressed the button to switch on the lights as fans cheered him on, on Saturday (November 16).

He was joined on stage by the Deputy Mayor of Dudley councillor Hilary Bills, BBC WM’s Caroline Martin, local school pupil Pheobe Glover, who won a competition to be on stage for the event and Sarah Williams, aged 6, from Halesowen, who entered a Facebook competition with Dudley Council to help Gregory flick the switch. 

Crowds were also treated to a host of entertainment with a stage hosted by Black Country Radio featuring live performances from local performers throughout the day including Bhangra Smash Up and Andy Bennett of Ocean Colour Scene fame.

Donchez Dacres, from Britain's Got Talent, also made an appearance, as did Jordan School of Dance, Lutley Community Choir.

Free children’s rides, a Christmas food and craft market and the chance for youngsters to meet Father Christmas added to the fun.

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Councillor Hilary Bills, Deputy Mayor of Dudley, said: "The Christmas countdown has well and truly begun in Halesowen!

"It was a pleasure to join Gregory on stage, he is a true home-grown talent and our borough is rightly proud of his achievements and notoriety.

"The event was really well supported by the residents and I especially want to thank Halesowen BID for making events in the town like this possible."

Vicky Rogers, Halesowen BID manager, said: "Gregory Piper was a humble young lad, he was just honoured to be turning on the lights in his home town.

"He brought along his girlfriend, his nan and his mum.

"He is so grounded."

Vicky said this year there were also lights on Queensway from Earls Island to the bus station and Halesowen firm Sandvik sponsored two Christmas trees in the town.

A grotto in Dancers was raising money for Smilers, a local charity which helps adults with learning difficulties and the Halesowen and Rowley Regis Rotary Club's charity sleigh was also in the town.

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The Christmas lights are paid for by Halesowen BID.

Business Improvement Districts are created through a ballot process to deliver additional services to local businesses.

Each business across the BID area has to pay a 1.25 per cent levy towards BID work which aims to attract interest and investment to the town.

Dudley light switch on takes place Saturday November 23 from 12 noon to 5pm, Brierley Hill’s event is Friday November 29 from 3pm to 6pm and Stourbridge’s event is on Saturday November 30 from 9am to 5pm.