Six-year-old Amelia Harrop-Rhodes will be the guest of honour at the Christmas lights switch-on at Alhambra Shopping Centre this year. 

Amelia, who lives in Penistone, will help Santa to switch the festive lights on at 6pm on Wednesday 14 November. Amelia is supported by Bluebell Wood, the shopping centre’s charity of the year. 

The spectacular event on 14 November will be hosted by Dearne FM’s Matt Foister from 5pm to 7pm and include an appearance by much-loved children’s book character The Gruffalo™, and a performance from Oakwell Rise Primary Academy choir. 

Some lucky shoppers will join Matt Foister on stage to stick or twist in a nerve tingling game of Christmas Boxes, with a chance to win up to £50 towards their Christmas shopping. 

The Gruffalo™ will be available for meet and greets on the upper level outside The Entertainer Toy Shop at intervals from 2pm. Shoppers are advised to come along early to avoid disappointment and to bring their cameras. 

Amelia was diagnosed with cerebral palsy and spastic asymmetric quadriplegia at just a few weeks old. Her mum Jenni said: “Amelia was really excited when she found out she would be switching the Alhambra’s Christmas lights on with Santa. 

“We’re so pleased that Alhambra has supported Bluebell Wood this year, because this charity makes such a big difference for families like ours. Amelia is a typical cheeky six-year-old, but it can be tiring caring for her and having mummy-daughter time too. At Bluebell Wood, I get to relax for a bit knowing she is being well looked after. She bakes, plays in the sensory room and in the soft playroom. It’s loads of fun for her.” 

Anna Gott, Community Fundraiser, Bluebell Wood, said: “We’re really grateful to Alhambra and shoppers in Barnsley for all their amazing support this year, and we’re sure that Christmas at the centre is going to be loads of fun. Every penny people donate to Bluebell Wood gives families across our region the chance to make special memories at Christmas and all year round.” 

The Christmas lights switch on marks the start of late night shopping at Alhambra and a whole host of Christmas activities, including ‘win your late night shopping’ every Wednesday between 4pm and 8pm and Elf on the Shelf weekly competitions. 

From 1 December, children will be able to have supper with Santa, visit his grotto and write letters in a brand new post office for 2018.   The grotto will be open every Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12pm to 4pm, until Christmas Eve. All proceeds will go to Bluebell Wood.