Little battler Dottie O'Keefe is set to turn on Wintertide Christmas lights

Dottie O'Keefe
Dottie O'Keefe

A festive treat is in store for a little girl at the centre of a fundraising drive to help her walk.

Dottie O’Keefe, three, has been invited by the organising committee of Hartlepool’s Wintertide Festival to switch on the Christmas lights on the festival’s opening night on Friday November 24.

Last year's Wintertide.

Last year's Wintertide.

The cerebral palsy-sufferer from the Rossmere area of Hartlepool needs spinal surgery to help her walk independently and local charities Miles for Men and Walk for Women have launched a drive to raise £35,000 for an operation currently not available on the NHS.

Peter Jackson, chairman of the Wintertide Committee, said “We are very pleased to have Dottie coming to switch on the lights, and we are also pleased to be able to give a donation towards such a worthy cause.”

Councillor Dave Hunter, a member of the committee, added: “It has been a fantastic year working with a range of volunteers on the Wintertide project, and getting Dottie to switch on the lights is the icing on the cake.”

Miles for Men ambassador Stephen Picton said: “It is brilliant that the Wintertide Committee has asked Dottie to switch the lights on as it will help to raise the profile of the appeal and boost fundraising for this remarkable little girl.”

Dottie, foreground centre, at the Heugh Battery with (left-right) Reg Wright (Heugh Battery), Ralph Foster (Miles for Men), Stephen Picton (Miles for Men), Kiera Cave (Walk for Women),Dotties dad Daniel OKeefe and mum HelenNoon.

Dottie, foreground centre, at the Heugh Battery with (left-right) Reg Wright (Heugh Battery), Ralph Foster (Miles for Men), Stephen Picton (Miles for Men), Kiera Cave (Walk for Women),Dotties dad Daniel OKeefe and mum HelenNoon.

Representative of the charities and members of Dottie’s family will also be collecting money on the night.

This year’s Wintertide Festival, which will take place on Hartlepool’s historic Headland from Friday, November 24, to Sunday, November 26, is the third time the event has been held, and once again it promises a feast of fun and entertainment for the whole family.

A festive outdoor market, a funfair, art exhibitions, a film festival, dance, an indoor Christmas craft fair and a creative writing workshop are just some of the attractions that will be on offer.

The large-scale event – which will take place at key locations on the Headland, including the Borough Hall, the Heugh Battery, St Hild’s Church and Croft Gardens – is being organised by the Headland Festivals Group, a partnership of key Headland organisations.

Last year's Wintertide.

Last year's Wintertide.

The main sponsors are Hartlepool Borough Council, the Tees Valley Community Foundation, Thirteen Group and the Sir James Knott Trust.

The festival will be officially opened with a children’s lantern parade from the Heugh Battery to the Town Square outside the Borough Hall for a Christmas tree and festive illuminations switch-on at 6pm.

A festive outdoor market and funfair will take place in the Town Square from 4pm-8pm.

Activities will commence on Saturday, November 25, at 10am and continue through to 8pm. The fun will again commence at 10am on Sunday, November 26, and the whole weekend will conclude with a spectacular fireworks display on the Pilot Pier at 4.30pm.

Unless stated, all events and activities are free to attend. Spaces are limited on all ticketed events and free workshops. To book tickets or to get more information about events and activities go to www.wintertidefestuk.com