Marathon runner and cancer blogger to switch on Portishead’s Christmas lights

PUBLISHED: 08:00 03 November 2019

Ben Smith and Heidi Loughlin will turn on Portishead's Christmas lights. Picture: Tracey Fowler

Ben Smith and Heidi Loughlin will turn on Portishead's Christmas lights. Picture: Tracey Fowler


An inspirational duo from Portishead will be given the honour of switching on the town’s hugely popular Christmas lights display.

Marathon man Ben Smith and cancer blogger Heidi Loughlin will illuminate the town's festive display on November 25.

Ben earned international acclaim for his gruelling 401 Challenge, which saw him run 401 marathons in 401 days from 2015-2016 to raise money for anti-bullying charities.

He will set off on a new challenge in the new year - USA 2020, completing a marathon in each of the 50 state capitals and cycling between them in just 104 days.

Ben will be joined on stage by 2017's Inspirational Mum of the Year Heidi, who has earned an international following from her Storm In A Tit Cup blog.

Heidi, who launched her debut book Heidi's Lifeline earlier this year, has been praised for her candid reflections on her diagnosis with inflammatory breast cancer and the tragic death of her baby daughter Ally.

Last year's display was turned on by Matt and Rosemary Westley as recognition for their decades of work behind the counter of High Street shop Morgan Westley, and 2019's event will follow the same tradition of celebrating the people of Portishead.

A Portishead Christmas Lights spokesman said: "Sometimes we have awarded the switching-on honour to a national figure, but the preference is to recognise a figure from the locality that has made a contribution to the community."

The illumination ceremony - which was attended by more than 5,000 people last year -- will take place outside The Old Mill pub, in High Street, at 6.15pm, with BBC presenter Jemma Cooper the master of ceremonies.

The High Street will close at 6pm to allow Father Christmas to make an appearance and collect letters from children.

The spokesman added: "The lights represent a rare and remarkable example of a community coming together to achieve an impressive result.

"Every year about 100 volunteers volunteer together to put up a festive display which is widely said to be the best in the West.

"The display now stretches from the Clevedon end of the High Street to the Waitrose piazza - a golden mile of festive cheer."

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