Local hero Taz Ali performs Jarrow Christmas lights switch-on after event was postponed due to Storm Arwen

A pandemic hero has flipped the switch on the festive season – and shown again how the community cannot be beaten by disaster.

Jarrow’s Christmas lights switch-on was due to take place on Friday night, but was cancelled as Storm Arwen moved in on South Tyneside, with the borough taking a battering in the strong winds.

The event was rescheduled for Tuesday, November 30, and with the clear-up operation still underway around him, Taz Ali switched on Christmas in his home town.

Taz and his brother Nico, who run the Premier Top Shop in the Scotch Estate, delivered food parcels to vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic, earning them a #LoveSouthTyneside Award.

The Jarrow Christmas lights switch-on, featuring local hero Taz Ali from the Scotch Estate.

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    They were chosen to switch on the Christmas lights in Jarrow after South Tyneside Council decided to use the borough’s switch-on events to recognise the efforts of those who went the extra mile to help their communities through covid.

    However, the rearranged switch-on event at Jarrow Town Hall in Grange Road saw Taz getting a hand from Santa instead, as his brother was away.

    Entertainment for the event included a touching performance by children from the Jarrow Cross C of E Primary School choir, as well as magic from Mr Merlin, and a brass quartet.

    It came after schoolboy Oliver Nicholson, who delivered little notes and treats to his elderly neighbours to help keep up their spirits during the first coronavirus lockdown period, performed the switch-on in Hebburn on Monday.

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    Jarrow Christmas lights switch-on with the Jarrow Cross C of E Primary School choir.

    Dr Mickey Jachuck, a consultant cardiologist at South Tyneside and Sunderland NHS Foundation Trust, did the honours for South Shields last Wednesday.

    Deputy council leader Joan Atkinson, responsible for Culture and Leisure, said: “These are real community events and it’s only right that we celebrate the wonderful people in South Tyneside for their incredible work during the coronavirus pandemic.”

    The next festive civic event will be the Christmas Wonderland Parade on Friday, December 10, which sets off from Ocean Road at 5pm.

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    Families can also get into the Christmas spirit that day with the Virtual Christmas Carol Concert being streamed on the council’s YouTube channel.

    Following that, there will Christmas Markets on Friday and Saturday December 17 and 18 in the Market Place, where shoppers can browse a variety of market stalls and enjoy street food, live music and entertainment.

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