Coronation Street star Mikey North lights up Peterlee with Jamie Rickers

Mikey North who plays Gary Windass,  Lucy Wood (10) of Peterlee and Jamie Rickers who plays Buttons in the Sunderland Empire panto.

Mikey North who plays Gary Windass, Lucy Wood (10) of Peterlee and Jamie Rickers who plays Buttons in the Sunderland Empire panto.

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PETERLEE town centre was lit up for the festive period as a soap star helped to kick off the countdown to Christmas.

Coronation Street star Mikey North, or Gary Windass as he is known to fans of the soap, was joined on stage by Jamie Rickers, who plays Buttons in the Sunderland Empire panto Cinderella and 10-year-old Lucy Wood for Saturday evening’s Christmas lights switch-on.

Hundreds of people got into the festive spirit and gathered at Peterlee’s Castle Dene Shopping Centre where they enjoyed a host of talented performers on stage before the town was lit up with Christmas lights at around 4.45pm.

Those who had gathered around the shopping centre enjoyed performances from East Durham College’s Dance Academy dancers, Jordan Kirkup, who was the winner of the Castle Dene’s Next Big Thing competition and Diva from BBC1’s The Voice.

Mikey, Jamie and Lucy were then cheered on to the stage and pressed the button to switch on the lights after a countdown from the crowd.

Barry Parnell, manager of Castle Dene Shopping Centre, said: “All the stops were pulled out to make the lights switch-on a huge success.”