HUNDREDS of excited families packed into Wharf Green to watch former JLS star Aston Merrygold take to the Swindon Christmas lights switch-on stage.

The Beat Again hitmaker pressed the big red button to light up the town together with Wyvern panto stars Chris Jarvis and Michelle Collins – the latter best known as EastEnders’ Cindy Beale.

Perhaps the biggest cheer of the night came when 31-year-old Aston, who rose to fame on TV show The X Factor, gave a nod to the last time he was in town.

“I was told it’s been seven years since I was last in Swindon performing,” he said to rapturous cheers.

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Aston Merrygold on stage Pictures: DAVE COX

Kelly Hooper, 24, had travelled down from Birmingham to watch Aston take to the stage: “I’m obsessed with him. I have got a tattoo of him on my shoulder. I’ve liked him from day one.”

Mum Angela Hooper, 49, added: “She’s got posters of him all over her bedroom walls.”

Kimberly Hewlett, 45, from North Swindon, was in the front row with her family: “My daughter has liked JLS since she was little.”

JLS superfan Steph Smith, 21, had also travelled down from Birmingham. She said of the band in which Aston shot to fame: “They’re just amazing. They need to get back together.”

Laura Debanks, 31, who lives in the town centre, said: “I’m mainly looking forward to the lights. It’s the start of Christmas. Last year it was all about Tinchy Stryder. This year it’s more about the lights and the music.”

Donna Royle, 29, from Penhill, said: “I really enjoy the Christmas lights switch-on. It’s been good for the last three years I’ve been coming.”

The event is organised by inSwindon BID.

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Fireworks over the tented market

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Aston Merrygold on stage

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The crowd in Wharf Green

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Performers from Swindon Dance raised a cheer