SPICING up the Sheffield Christmas lights switch on was former Spice Girl turned solo chart-topper Melanie C - with a little help from nine-year-old Oliver Caley.
Sheffield has been transformed again into a dazzling winter wonderland - and spicing up the Christmas lights switch-on in front of 30,000 people was former Spice Girl Melanie C.
The girl power superstar, joined on stage by Real Radio’s Breakfast show stars Dixie and Gayle, was also given some boy power help from nine-year-old Oliver Caley.
Oliver, of Middlewood Road, Hillsborough, won the hearts and votes of Star readers in a competition to help press the plunger after his family told how he had given up his Sundays to stand in the cold and sell British Legion poppies.
Melanie, who topped an afternoon of pop star entertainment in Barker’s Pool with songs from new album The Sea, was full of praise for him backstage.
She told the Marlcliffe Primary School pupil: “You really deserve this. That’s a lovely thing you did.”
And Melanie, formerly Sporty Spice, told The Star what she really, really wants for Christmas - time with her family, including two-year-old daughter Scarlett.
“I’ve found the joy of Christmas again. It’s just so magical now with my daughter who is three in February,” she said.
“We’re going to write Santa a letter, leave carrots out for the reindeer and everything,” added the star, who performed new album tracks Think About It and latest single, Weak, plus her previous number one, I Turn To You.
In an exclusive lights switch-on video report - watch it in full at www.thestar.co.uk/video - she described Sheffield as a second home.
It’s where city-based Grammy singer-songwriter Eliot Kennedy developed the Spice Girls’ first album. When You’re Gone was the worldwide smash she had with rocker Bryan Adams, co-written by Eliot, who got the two singers together.
“Sheffield is a second home for me, a special city,” she said. “So it’s a real honour to turn on the Christmas lights.”
Real Radio also provided entertainment from ex-Neighbours star Sam Clark who played Ringo Brown, Shiloh Gospel Choir, Liam Blake, Hype Dance Group, Girls Next Door, Juice, Paul Thomas, a children’s choir and Eli Prime.
The big switch-on was a dual event - from the Real Radio stage and the Town Hall balcony, where Santa, stars from the Lyceum’s pantomime Sleeping Beauty and Lord Mayor Sylvia Dunkley will press another button.
Families were earlier treated to appearances from children’s character Fifi, as well as fairground rides, real reindeer and a living nativity events in The Moor, Peace Gardens, Tudor Square and Winter Garden.
Late night shopping begins on Wednesday and the extensive Craft and Christmas Market, Santa’s Grotto and traditional German bar will return to Fargate from December 3.
Sheffield’s Botanical Gardens is hosting A Magical Christmas event from December 9 to 11, when the gardens are being illuminated.