X Factor heartthrob Josh Daniel spread festive cheer when he helped light up Keighley for Christmas.
Hundreds of fans gathered at the town’s Airedale Shopping Centre to hear him perform new tracks and carry out his official duties with Santa and the town’s Mayor, Cllr Javaid Akhtar.
The singer, who shot to fame after moving judge Simon Cowell to tears with his performance, had earlier spent the afternoon at the Keighley mall signing autographs and meeting fans.
Also entertaining the crowds was local Yorkshire singer Thomas Teago, the HD Hoopers Ladies,Keighley Cougars and cheerleading Team Xtreme, plus stilt walkers, face-painting and balloon modellers. Pulse 1’s roadshow broadcast live from the centre, hosted by presenters Danny Mylo and Rosie Madison with competitions and fun games.
One keen X Factor fan, 12-year-old Raheem Ali, made sure his aunty Noreen Niwaz brought him down to the Airedale specially to see his idol.
Raheem, a pupil at South Craven School, said: “I’m a big fan and have been watching him ever since the first audition for X Factor. He was really good and it was really emotional – he should have gone further in the show.”
Noreen said: “Raheem watches X Factor all the time and has been looking forward to this for the past few weeks. I think he’d like to be famous himself when he’s older.”
Airedale Centre manager Steve Seymour was delighted to see so many people braving the weather to turn out for the event, run in conjunction with the Keighley Town Centre Association and the Keighley Town Council, which concluded with a spectacular fireworks show.
“It’s been a wet, windy but brilliant day, with so many people coming to get Josh’s autograph and see him perform, along with Keighley Cougars, TeamXtreme, Thomas Teago and the Hooper Ladies, before the big event – the lights go on,” said Steve.
“Santa’s also been busy in his grotto and I know that he’s met hundreds of children already – he will be back at the centre every weekend leading up to Christmas.
“It really is starting to feel like Christmas is underway.”
The grotto on Brunswick Arcade is once again raising vital funds for Sue Ryder’s Manorlands Hospice, the Airedale’s nominated charity for 2015.
Visitors can help the hospice in Oxenhope by dropping coins into the centre’s wishing well in the animated display or making use of the gift-wrapping service that will be running in the mall right up until 4pm on Christmas Eve.
Josh’s rendition of Jealous, by Labyrinth, dedicated to a friend who had recently died, brought the normally nasty Simon Cowell to tears and wowed audiences of millions during the X Factor auditions, and has since been played more than 29 million times on YouTube.
The 22-year-old went on to sail through the boot camp stages of the contest and even though he narrowly missed out on heading through to the finals, Josh won the hearts of thousands.
One family obsessed with the TV talent show, and Josh in particular, are the Westfalls from Keighley who came along on Sunday to see their hero in action.
Mum Donna brought her children, both pupils at St Joseph’s Primary, eight-year-old Freddie and Dolly, aged six, along to the event, where Dolly also took to the stage herself with her cheerleading group.
Donna said: “We’re all X Factor mad in our house so we watch it every week. I think Josh is brilliant – we all love him really.
“Dolly’s been up dancing today too. She goes to cheerleading with Team Xtreme and there are about 70 of them but only six were chosen to come and perform today.
“They practiced hard and it went really well – she wasn’t shy at all because they knew what they were doing and there were loads of people watching.
“She’s also had her photo taken with Josh,” Donna added.