Dance act Diversity's surprise turnout

An enormous crowd threatened to overwhelm Norwich's Chapelfield shopping centre during its Christmas lights switch-on last night. The turnout to see Britain's Got Talent winners Diversity took organisers by surprise.

An enormous crowd threatened to overwhelm Norwich's Chapelfield shopping centre during its Christmas lights switch-on last night.

The turnout to see Britain's Got Talent winners Diversity took organisers by surprise. One police officer estimated it at 8,000 strong, while organisers had planned for 2,000. Extra security staff were drafted in on top of the extra forces already on duty, making 40 security staff in total as well as police.

There were no major incidents, but several minor injuries. Thousands enjoyed the event but there was also frustration from some at being unable to move or see because of the size of the crowd.

Liz Hollis took her daughters Kate, five, and Charlotte, 10, to the event. Both love dancing and had been looking forward to seeing Diversity, but they went home disappointed. Ms Hollis, 45, of Norwich, said: “There seemed to be thousands of people squeezing into a tiny space and we were getting squashed. Everyone was funnelling into an enclosed space and it was really scary.


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“Our friends were trying to come across to meet us but a policeman told them not to and said 'Small children are being hurt in there'. There were performers from local dance schools on the stage, and the only way they could get off was to link arms and push through the crowd. One girl of about eight or nine was screaming and was really frightened.”

But Rachel Fleet, 36, from Lowestoft, who brought her son Aaron King, eight, said: “It has been really good apart from the crowds. There has been absolutely loads of people. It is good that everyone made the effort, and there is a good atmosphere.”

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Ashley Banjo, 20, frontman of the street dance group Diversity, said: “It was awesome. We didn't know what to expect coming here to Norwich but this is one of the biggest crowds we have ever performed to.”

Sheridan Smith, marketing manager of Chapelfield shopping centre, said: “We knew they were popular and we were expecting it to be extremely busy, but I would be lying if I said the size of the crowd didn't surprise me. If we had known how many people would come, we probably wouldn't have had them.”

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