Battling Dottie lights up Headland for start of Wintertide Festival

Dottie O'Keefe who switched on the lights with mum Helen.
Dottie O'Keefe who switched on the lights with mum Helen.

Battling Hartlepool youngster Dottie O’Keefe lit up Hartlepool’s Wintertide Festival.

Three-year-old Dottie, who has cerebral palsy, was the guest of honour for the festival’s opening night after she was invited to switch on the dazzling Christmas tree and festive illuminations on the Headland.

Dottie O�"Keefe switching on the lights at the Wintertide Festival, in Headland Town Square, Hartleool, last night.

Dottie O�"Keefe switching on the lights at the Wintertide Festival, in Headland Town Square, Hartleool, last night.

It kicked off three days of events which promise something for all the family.

Tonight’s official opening saw local children parade with lanterns from the Heugh Battery to the Town Square.

Dottie was invited to perform the honour by the organising committee of the festival.

Her family, supported by charities Miles for Men and Walk for Women, is trying to raise £35,000 to pay for an operation not funded by the NHS to help her walk unaided.

All the fun of the fair

All the fun of the fair

A collection was at the switch-on held as part of the appeal.

A festive outdoor market and funfair is taking place in the Town Square in the winter festival, which runs until Sunday.

People are also invited to take advantage of art exhibitions, a film festival, dance, an indoor Christmas craft fair and a creative writing workshop at several locations on the Headland.

The festival is set to come to a close tomorrow with a spectacular fireworks display on the Pilot Pier at 4.30pm.

Festive spirit

Festive spirit

Most of the attractions are free but some are ticket only.

To book tickets or to see the full programme of events, go to www.wintertidefestuk.com.

Meanwhile in Peterlee, teenage singer Sam Lavery, who shot to fame on last year’s X Factor, returned to her native North East to switch on the town centre’s Christmas lights.

Sam, from Coxhoe, treated visitors at the Castle Dene shopping centre to a live performance after an afternoon of festive family events before doing the honours.

Lisa and Olivia (9) Corner of Hartlepool, who were part of the Eldon Grove Academy singers

Lisa and Olivia (9) Corner of Hartlepool, who were part of the Eldon Grove Academy singers

Wintertide Festival in the Headland Town Square

Wintertide Festival in the Headland Town Square