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Christmas lights to be put on at Market Square, Dover, by Kelly Turner's parents Martin and Linda

By Sam Lennon

The parents of Kelly Turner will turn on Dover's Christmas lights today in a sudden change of plan.

Town mayor Neil Rix has agreed to let Martin and Linda take the role from him when it had been thought until now that he would do it.

It had been originally hoped for Kelly to carry out the ceremony this year had she lived.

Kelly Turner with mum and dad Martin and Linda last year
Kelly Turner with mum and dad Martin and Linda last year

But she lost her battle with a rare cancer on November 6.

Kelly's dad Martin said: "It is an honour for us. Originally the town councillor Peter Wallace had asked the mayor for Kelly to do it and he agreed.

"She said yes though she was never keen, she was absolutely terrified of going onstage in front of all those people. But she knew it would be good for her cause"

There was a massive fundraising campaign to pay for specialist treatment to save her life.

Cllr Rix had invited Kelly in mid-October to do the lighting but on October 28 she was taken gravely ill and rushed to the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford.

She spent two nights there before being transferred to the specialist Royal Marsden Hospital in London where she died.

It was assumed that the switch-on role would go back to Cllr Rix but he instead offered it to the Turners on Thursday.

Mr Turner said: "We had just by chance bumped into each other in Market Square and it was then he asked us.

"Kelly would be pleased for us though to be honest she would be glad that she didn't have to do it."

Kelly, 17, of Dover, had a two-year battle with the extremely rare teenage cancer desmoplastic small round cell tumours.

Her plight had led to more than £600,000 being raised by the public to pay for the £1 million specialist treatment in America to save her life.

Now the money will be used for research into chemotherapy for other teenagers with DSRCT as the treatment is not available for this strain of the disease.

Kelly's death led to an immense outpouring of sympathy and sorrow among local people with hundreds attending her funeral in Dover eight days ago.

The Turners will switch on the lights at 5pm today and the ceremony will be part of two days of entertainment in the town centre put on by Dover Town Council.

A past scene of the Dover lights switch-on
A past scene of the Dover lights switch-on

The entertainment starts at 11am today and is provided by groups such as Dover and Deal Sea Cadets, the Wiggins Sisters singers and Dover Youth Theatre.

The build-up to the switch-on starts at 4pm with choir performances from groups such as the nationally famous P&O Ferries Choir.

Straight after the lights go on there will be a singalong of traditional Christmas carols.

Entertainment is also provided the Wiggins Sisters and CJ Dance and Fitness tomorrow.

Attractions over the weekend stretch from Market Square to the Town Hall and include a traditional helter skelter and children's carousel.

There will also be craft stalls, a Santa's grotto and a Christmas food market.

Christmas past. The turning on of the Dover lights in 2015 by local actors and the then mayor Chris Precious
Christmas past. The turning on of the Dover lights in 2015 by local actors and the then mayor Chris Precious

The exact timetable of events for today is:

12.15pm: Dover and Deal Sea Cadets.

12.45pm: Wiggins Sisters.

1.25pm: Whitfield and Aspen School.

2.30pm: Dover College.

3.10pm: Dover Youth Theatre.

3.30pm. Wiggins Sisters.

4pm to 4.40pm. Choir performances from the P&O Ferries Choir, the Duke of York's Military School and the Landmark Show Choir of Deal.

5pm: Turning on of lights by Martin and Linda Turner.

5.05pm. Carols singalong.

Entertainment for tomorrow.

1pm: Wiggins Sisters.

2pm. CJ Dance and Fitness.

3pm Wiggins Sisters.

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