This year’s star guest of Leighton Buzzard’s Christmas Weekend says it was an “honour” to switch on the town’s lights on Friday despite having to turn down the premiere of Philomena in Stockholm.
Philomena Lee, 80, whose granddaughter Natalie Richards lives in Linslade, has seen her life story launched on to the big screen in Steve Coogan’s new film.
But she says it was her pleasure to stand out in the cold to light up Leighton’s High Street and pass on Judi Dench’s regards to the people of the town.
Speaking to the LBO, Philomena said: “It was absolutely amazing and really exciting to be up there in front of all those people.
“I was really nervous at first, but everyone was so good and kind to me.
“I can’t believe that they did me such an honour in Leighton Buzzard, I really enjoyed it.
“And to pass on compliments from Judi Dench was amazing.
“We should have been at a premiere in Stockholm tonight, but we turned them down because we had already made the appointment and I wouldn’t let my granddaughter down.
“I’d like to thank everyone for inviting me.”
After a few singsongs and the twinkling lights it was time for a fantastic firework display to mark the start of the three-day weekend and to put everyone firmly in the festive spirit.
Chairman of LB First, Gennaro Borreli, spoke of his delight at the planning of Leighton’s community event all coming together.
He said: “As always it has been a fantastic atmosphere here in Leighton Buzzard.
“There has been an excellent community spirit and our star guest Philomena was so lovely, a really pleasure who really pulled the people out.
“There has been a lot of people milling out and it’s great to see a lot of our independent shops staying open late.
“We know how to put on a good show here in Leighton Buzzard.”