Author, poet and playwright Michael Morpurgo joined Hay-on-Wye Citizens of the Year Trish and Alan Kiddle to switch on the town’s Christmas lights over the weekend.

The trio switched on the lights on Friday in an event organised by Hay Markets Ltd with the support of Hay Town Council, Hay Chamber of Commerce and Hay Festival. The free community switch-on event took place between 5pm and 7pm in Hay-on-Wye’s Memorial Square, accompanied by carol singing, food, mulled wine and entertainment.

The event offered a rousing start to Hay Festival Winter Weekend.

Michael Morpurgo switches on Hay’s Christmas lights
The switch-on also signalled the start of the Hay Festival Winter Weekend (Billie Charity)

Morpurgo is one of Britain’s best loved writers for children with sales of over 35 million copies. He has written over 150 books and won many prizes, including the Whitbread Award and the Blue Peter Book Award, as well as holding the UK’s Children’s Laureateship from 2003 to 2005.Morpurgo took to the Hay Festival Winter Weekend stage yesterday (Saturday) to discuss his classic WW1 story, War Horse, which was released 40 years ago and inspired the award- winning film which the late Revel Guest helped to bring to the screen.

A new 40th anniversary edition of War Horse is published this year by Farshore, illustrated by George Butler.

Ahead of the switch-on, Morpurgo said: “We live in dark times at the moment but we have Christmas ahead and we have hope. It’s for the light of hope that I am turning on the Christmas lights in Hay. It should make us happy and I know it will be a happy time filled with joy and light.”