BIG crowds turned out on Friday evening to celebrate the switch-on of the Christmas lights in Ilminster and the Victorian Evening.

Television actor Charles Dale, better known as Big Mac from the hit series Casualty, helped Mayor Cllr Carol Goodall flick the switch to illuminate Ilminster and get the countdown to Christmas well and truly under way.

Charles had been introduced as the ‘first foreigner’ to be given the honour of switching on the Christmas lights having travelled ‘all the way’ from Wales to be at the event.

He said he was delighted to be given the role and later mingled with the crowds to sign autographs and pose for photos, while also visit some of the shops and offices which had taken part in the Victorian Evening.

Many of the shops stayed open for late-night trading and staff got into the spirit of the event by dressing in Victorian costume.

Organisers would like to thank everyone who supported the event and wish people a very Merry Christmas.

FOR more pictures and full results from the fancy dress competition at Ilminster Victorian Evening pick up a copy of this week's Chard and Ilminster News.