VIDEO: Frankie lights up Sheffield M1 Christmas cranes

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Little Frankie Cox got a BIG birthday surprise when she got to switch on the Christmas lights on the cranes next to the M1 motorway in South Yorkshire.

And it was all thanks to The Star.

Frankie Cox switched on HTC plant ltd crane Christmas lights

Frankie Cox switched on HTC plant ltd crane Christmas lights

Frankie, of Chapeltown, who celebrates her sixth birthday on Friday, was given the special job, at HTC Plant Limited Tower Cranes and Hoists, by her Star winning aunt, Donna Wall.

VIDEO: Press the play button to watch our video report

Donna won our free draw competition for a child to perform the big switch on and nominated Frankie because her birthday - so close to Christmas- is always in danger of being overshadowed by the festive season.

But crane company bosses made it a spectacular and dazzling night she will never forget.

Star winner Frankie Cox, five, centre, joined by sister Leyla, seven, and brother Riley, 11, to help switch on HTC plant ltd crane Christmas lights with a big cheer from family, friends and workers.

Star winner Frankie Cox, five, centre, joined by sister Leyla, seven, and brother Riley, 11, to help switch on HTC plant ltd crane Christmas lights with a big cheer from family, friends and workers.

She was joined by sister Leyla, seven, and brother Riley, 11, who helped her to press the plunger and turn on around 2,000 meters of rope lights on four permanent cranes, lit one by one, towering over the M1 near Meadowhall.

The biggest of the four, the one furthest north along the M1, has a Christmas star on top and stands a mighty 175ft high, weighs around 120 tons and is worth around €1 million.

Proud mum and dad, Gillian Wall and Wayne Cox, watched and cheered along with Donna and other members of the family at the entrance to the site in Grange Mill Lane.

Frankie, who was also given a large toy crane and £100 of toys vouchers, said she wanted to use some of the money to buy toys for needy children helped by The Star backed Hallam FM and Magic AM Mission Christmas Cash For Kids appeal.

Star winner Frankie Cox, five, centre, joined by sister Leyla, seven, and brother Riley, 11, to help switch on HTC plant ltd crane Christmas lights with a big cheer from family, friends and workers.

Star winner Frankie Cox, five, centre, joined by sister Leyla, seven, and brother Riley, 11, to help switch on HTC plant ltd crane Christmas lights with a big cheer from family, friends and workers.

She said of the lights: “It was really bright when they came on.

“I’m not going to buy a crane. I’ll buy some dolls with the vouchers.”

Dad Wayne said: “Everybody sees these cranes when they come through the region on the motorway - because they are right at the side of the M1. ”

Donna said: “”When you see these crane lights, you know it’s Christmas.

HTC plant ltd crane Christmas lights switched on by  Frankie Cox, five.

HTC plant ltd crane Christmas lights switched on by Frankie Cox, five.

“I cried when I won, thinking of Frankie’s face when I told her what she was going to do.

“When it’s near Christmas your birthday doesn’t seem as big a deal - so this was a special extra present for her.

“I’m just glad we didn’t have to go up the crane. You wouldn’t have got me on the first step of the ladder.

“The crane company have been fantastic, very generous. I know she’s thanked them herself. But out of the vouchers she has received, she wants to give some to Cash For Kids, to donate some of those.”

Dave Holder, HTC director and general manager, said it will cost £10,000 to light up the four cranes over the festive period but they plan to keep the iconic landmarks lit every Christmas.

“For many people it’s not Christmas until our lights come on. They look our for them at the side of the motorway and we get lovely letters from people saying how much they mean to them,” he said.

Star winner Frankie Cox presented with gifts from David Holder Director and Mel Clerehugh works manager

Star winner Frankie Cox presented with gifts from David Holder Director and Mel Clerehugh works manager

“But we’ve probably missed the real value of them, until now. We’ve never had anyone to turn them on before.

“I’m sure Frankie has a future as a X Factor star. She did an absolutely splendid job of turning on our lights, very professional in deed, a lovely little girl.

“This is the 12th Christmas that the lights have been a feature on our tower cranes - ever since we’ve been here. We think we will expand them possibly next year.

“We had an absolutely phenomenal response to The Star’s competition and it’s made at least one girl very happy. Everyone who attended this evening shared in that joy.

“We had a team of guys in last week and they fitted new lights to two of the cranes and refurbished the others.

“The star on top of the highest crane gave us a few issues but we managed to get it all up and running and these guys have done a splendid job.”

* Do the Christmas cranes have a special meaning for you? Email us, with Christmas crane lights mermories in the subject box, including your full name and contact details in your message, plus any jpeg photos, to news@thestar.co.uk.