Ryan Giggs, Marley Nicholls and Santa switch on Newport’s Christmas lights.

Ryan Giggs, Marley Nicholls and Santa. Picture: Chris Tinsley Photography
FOOTBALL superstar Ryan Giggs and six-year-old Marley Nicholls were the stars of the show as thousands of people packed the streets of Newport city centre yesterday to start the Christmas period in style.
Newport’s Countdown to Christmas event – organised by the Newport Now Business Improvement District – was hailed as the best yet by organisers.
It culminated in the city’s Christmas lights being switched on by Wales football manager and Manchester United legend Mr Giggs and Marley, the Bettws youngster who is the subject of a worldwide search for a bone marrow match.
The duo were joined by Newport Mayor, Cllr Malcolm Linton, council leader Cllr Debbie Wilcox, and Father Christmas to switch on the lights.
Marley was diagnosed with aplastic anaemia earlier this year and doctors have said his best chance of survival is to have a blood stem cell transplant.
A search of the global register has returned no matches for Marley. Now, his family is campaigning to find #MarrowforMarley in the hope of finding him a matching blood stem cell donor.
The first step to register is simple and straightforward – it takes minutes, you order your home swab kit online at www.dkms.org.uk/with-marley, and then you swab the inside of your cheeks and send everything back in a pre-paid envelope to blood cancer charity DKMS in order for your details to be added to the registry.
You will then be on standby as a potential lifesaver.
The lights switch-on was preceded by an afternoon of live music, with Britain’s Got Talent finalists Bars & Melody, and X Factor stars Misunderstood proving hugely popular with the thousands who attended the event.
The day was rounded off with a spectacular fireworks show from the roof of the Kingsway car park.
Newport Now manager Kevin Ward said: “This is the third year the BID has organised and delivered Countdown to Christmas and we think this was the best yet.
“The weather was perfect, the entertainment was great, and the combination of Ryan and Marley was magical, with thousands keen to see Ryan and to show their support for Marley.
“It was great to see the city centre so busy and buzzing all day.”
Newport Now BID is a private company representing and funded by more than 400 businesses in Newport city centre.
It delivers a series of events and activity in the city centre, aimed at increasing footfall and improving the area for traders, customers, residents and visitors alike.
Countdown to Christmas was delivered in partnership with Newport City Council, Friars Walk, Kingsway and Newport City Radio.
It also included fairground rides in Commercial Street, High Street and along the riverfront.
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