TV star and EastEnders legend Anita Dobson brought showbiz sparkle to Farnham when she switched on the Christmas lights last Saturday in Gostrey Meadow.

Ms Dobson is best known for playing the infamous Angie Watts, landlady of the Queen Vic, in EastEnders from 1985 to 1988, and recently moved to the Farnham area.

Joining Father Christmas, the mayor of Farnham and stars from this year’s pantomime in Fleet, Ms Dobson said: “I’m thrilled to be here. Farnham is really pretty! Thank you for asking me along.”

She then led the countdown to turning on the lights, much to the delight of the hundreds of people who went along to be part of the official start to Farnham’s festive season.

Speaking after the event, the mayor, Councillor Alan Earwaker, said: “Thank you so much to Anita Dobson for joining us on stage. I hope she enjoyed the switch-on as much as we did.

“Thank you also to the many people who helped make the event happen, in particular, principal sponsor Farnham Veterinary Hospital and gold sponsor Swish Fibre who are a sponsor for the switch-on event and enabled us to provide the bucking rodeo reindeer!

(NATALIIA SHAROMOVA )

“I’d also like to thank Paul Adams from Branston Adams accountants who sponsored our wonderful Santa’s grotto, and all the panto stars who came along. They are appearing in Snow White at the Harlington in Fleet, so do go and see it if you can.”

The Christmas lights switch-on was the focal point of an afternoon of family fun, Christmas activities and music which took place in Gostrey Meadow from lunchtime until early evening. As the countdown to the switch-on reached zero, glitter cannons fired sparkling confetti over the crowds. A bubble machine blew bubbles filled with stage smoke across the onlookers too, adding to the atmosphere.

Once the Christmas lights were illuminated, Farnham Youth Choir continued on stage with a dazzling performance of festive songs. The event was organised by Farnham Town Council with support from local choirs, schools and entertainers. A short video of the switch-on is on the council’s Facebook page.

Children met Santa in his grotto to share their Christmas wishes, as well as visiting a live nativity scene, complete with live farm animals. There were also mini fairground rides, free face painting, a giant snow globe and Christmas crafts to keep children busy.

Christmas community events, including markets, fairs and musical performances, continue until the end of December. Visit Farnham Town Council’s website to find out what’s on.