Actress Kathryn Apanowicz will uphold the legacy of her late partner, Richard Whiteley, when she lights up Ilkley for Christmas this year.

The television and radio presenter and former soap star has been named as the special guest who will push the plunger to switch on Ilkley’s Christmas lights this November.

She and the Channel 4 Countdown presenter, who died in 2005, used to live in Burley Woodhead.

Richard Whiteley was a major supporter of community events and a much-loved local figure, who frequently found time to perform local opening ceremonies and Christmas lights switch-on events.

He even became the special guest at an art exhibition at very short notice in 2004 after being spotted walking past the venue where Coronation Street stars had failed to show up.

There had been plans to ask him to switch on the Ilkley lights in the year that Richard died.

Born in Horsforth, Kathryn Apanowicz is best known for her television appearances in the 1980s, playing nurse Rose Butchins in BBC1 series Angels, and Magda Czajkowski in EastEnders. She has also had minor roles in Emmerdale and Coronation Street, and as a child she was in the film Bugsy Malone.

Ilkley shop owner David Giddings, who arranges special guests to switch on the lights each year, said he was pleased to welcome Kathryn Apanowicz to do the honours this year.

The ceremony will take place on The Grove, in front of Christchurch, at 5pm on Saturday, November 20.

Families can expect the traditional community singing of festive songs, and youngsters will be invited to join in a parade in the build-up to the lights switch-on.