A SCHOOLBOY had big shoes to fill as he stepped in for Hollywood film star Patrick Stewart at a Christmas lights switch-on.
Harry Crowther, 11, is the world’s only sufferer of a genetic form of Atypical Progeria Syndrome – which makes his body age five times faster than normal.
The Castle Hall School pupil has already been diagnosed with arthritis in his fingers, toes, knees, elbows and wrists and has to take strong painkillers four times a day.
But Mirfield ambassador Harry didn’t let any of that stop him doing the town proud as on Saturday he pulled on the lever and lit up the streets in sparkling festive multi-coloured lights.
Just earlier this month Harry was stunned when his star-struck brother whispered to him that Sir Patrick Stewart was on the phone.
The Star Trek celeb had rang to ask Harry if he’d do him the honour of switching Mirfield’s lights on as he couldn’t make it back to Mirfield.
The X-Men actor, who is from Mirfield, is starring in a Broadway play until January 2011 and will be spending Christmas in New York.
Mum Sharron Crowther said: “Harry really enjoyed the light switch-on it but it got really cold that night.
“First he judged the elf competition at the fire station and then he rode in Santa’s sleigh – he absolutely loved that.
“Before he switched on the lights he gave a little speech thanking Patrick Stewart for asking him to turn on the Christmas lights.
“He was grinning from ear to ear and I’m really proud of him. We were all watching from the front. There was quite a turn-out and the lights looked lovely when they were on.”
Earlier that night in Holmfirth, PCs Cooper and Walsh – the dozy comic cops from Last of the Summer Wine played by Ken Kitson and Louis Emerick – turned on the lights.
Children got to meet Father Christmas in the grotto at Towngate car park.
And Cooper and Walsh ventured out to judge the entries in the ‘best Christmas window display’ competition.
Crowds lined the pavements to watch a festive procession, complete with Santa in his sleigh and brass band.
Holme Valley Business Association organised the whole event.
Robert Shearing, of Uppermill, told the organisers: “The switching on of the Holmfirth lights is part of our family’s big build-up to Christmas
“We always look forward to driving the 20 or so minutes across the tops to come to your lovely town.
“Holmfirth is always an interesting place to visit but so special and festive on the approach to Christmas.
“We have been coming to the lights switch-on for five years now, and now several friends and neighbours have started coming with us.”
The Holmfirth lights have been dogged by controversy for the past two years, after a court battle between Kath Smith and the former Holme Valley Business Association over costs.
But snow which had fallen during the previous night and early morning – topping the trees and buildings with white – ensured it was a magical Christmas atmosphere for all those who attended.