I had a little helper at lights switch-on

STEVE CANAVAN: Take note of why I love this country so much

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Over the past month I’ve been set free from the Heart radio studio to help start Christmas for thousands of people across Portsmouth.

I was asked to host the Christmas lights switch-on events across the city and as someone who loves this time of year, I jumped at the chance.

It all started on November 15 in Southsea, one of my favourite places on the south coast.

I wondered if I would be able to get into the spirit with it being well over a month until the big day. But with Father Christmas making an appearance on stage, creating excited and amazed looks on all the children’s faces, I was definitely feeling festive.

Plus we had Portsmouth singing duo 6ft4 11½ who performed Shakin’ Stevens’ Merry Christmas Everyone, one of my favourite Christmas tracks. It got me and a packed-out Palmerston Road in the mood for Christmas.

It was the third year in a row I’d hosted the switch-on in Southsea and once again, I was impressed that the cold weather didn’t keep people away and we had a huge turnout and great atmosphere.

A week later I was joined by Heart Breakfast presenter Zoe Hanson for the Christmas lights switch-on in Commercial Road and Cascades.

This was my first time hosting the event here and was extra special as when I was a young boy and a teenager, I would come along – first with my parents and then with my mates – and watch the presenters of Ocean FM and Power FM entertain the crowds from the Allders (now Debenhams) balcony.

I wondered if the even colder weather would keep people away, but once again Commercial Road was packed with families who had come to see the lights and the fireworks finale.

Highlights for me included The News Instant Star talent contest winner Jerry Williams, who sang for us on her 18th birthday. A packed Commercial Road sang happy birthday to her.

The Rock Choir, who performed the finale, were exceptional.

Finally, last week the people of Cosham turned out in their hundreds to see their Christmas lights turned on for 2013.

A personal highlight for me came in the Cascades where I was hosting and was joined by the Lord Mayor and actor Christopher Marlowe.

I was interviewing the Lord Mayor who was telling me about her charitable work over the Christmas period when I felt something pushing and pulling at my legs.

I looked down and my daughter Caitlin decided to join us for the Christmas tree lights countdown.

The next time I’ll be on stage will be in the pantomime Sleeping Beauty at the Kings Theatre.

I’ll just have to make sure Caitlin knows she must stay in her seat.