CHRISTMAS revellers thronged the centre of Malmesbury on Friday when the town threw open the doors for an evening of late night shopping and festive celebrations.

Sadly Malmesbury's Joe Hughes, European Boxing Union super light weight champion, who was due to parade up the High Street with the Mayor and cut a ribbon at the Market Cross to officially open the event, was unable to attend as his child wasn't well.

The Mayor of Malmesbury Coun Fran Vandelli said: "We were all concerned to hear the news about Joe and his family and we all wish him well. We will celebrate his achievements properly another time."

Of the night in Malmesbury she said: "The feedback we've had is that the atmosphere was wonderful, with excellent stalls, the shops staying open, and a mulled wine competition. The entertainment was superb.

"Children enjoyed the rides and the High Street was buzzing."

"It was a brilliant evening, and everyone enjoyed it," said deputy mayor Coun Julie Exton. "Malmesbury never lets you down on late night shopping night - there is always a great atmosphere."

Malmesbury Community Choir, the Hope Church choir and the Athelstan Players all sang during the course of the evening. The Malmesbury Concert Band and Hullavington Recorder Group played a programme of festive tunes, and the Malmesbury Morris danced at the Market Cross.

Coun Vandelli is also a member of the Morris dancers, and joined in the the performance in addition to her official duties.

A fire appliance was parked outside Malmesbury Town Hall, and youngsters had a chance to sit inside and learn about the vehicle. A GWAS ambulance was also in attendance.

Coun Catherine Doody spent the evening as one of Santa's little helpers, in a grotto set up in the Burgesses Hall , visited by around 80 children.

"I popped out for a mulled wine and the atmosphere in the town centre was amazing," she said.

The evening was organised by the town council working with the Town Team, led by Sarah Wilde. Event planning starts at the end of August, with meetings every week till December.

Hullavington Barracks provided ten soldiers to be marshals during the evening, with four additional marshals from the Royal British Legion Riders.

Coun Exton paid tribute to all the volunteers who helped make the evening a success.

"We are grateful to everyone who volunteers their time. It's such a wonderful evening, and everybody looks forward to it."

It has subsequently been reported that Joe Hughes' child on well enough to be home from hospital and is on the mend.