With just over a week to go until Helston's Christmas lights are switched on for another festive season, preparations ground to a halt at the weekend thanks to the drunken antics of one man.

The volunteers who turn out early every Sunday morning in the weeks leading up to the switch, to put the displays up, were forced to spend a wasted hour after a tray of 200 coloured bulbs was swiped from under their noses as they worked.

Chairman of the lights committee, Robert Williams, posted an appeal to Facebook on Sunday saying: "Working on the town's Christmas lights at 6.30am this morning by Hutchinson's chippy and some low life has gone and nicked a tray of coloured bulbs while our backs were turned. If anyone finds/knows of someone who's suddenly acquired 200-approx coloured bulbs please let me know. The police have been informed."

With the bulbs costing £2.80 each to replace, it was an expense the committee could ill afford.

Happily the stolen goods were returned a couple of hours later, with Mr Williams later posting an update saying: "The chap who took them has now brought the bulbs back. He'd had a couple too many last night but at least had the conscience to return them, so we can now carry on. Panic over."

It is believed that the man had returned home with the bulbs after a night on the town - only for his furious partner to insist he return them immediately.

The big lights switch on will now take place on Friday, December 1, when an evening of festive fun for all the family is promised.

The main streets of the town will be closed to traffic from 3.40pm until 10pm, to allow time for traders to set up before the event starts at 5pm and then pack away at the end of the evening.

The centre stage outside Barclays Bank in Coinagehall Street has been completely rebuilt and will now be higher off the ground, so performers will be more visible.

Entertainment will start here at 6pm, with Helston Town Band then leading the carol singing from 7pm ahead of the big countdown and switch on at 7.30pm. This will be immediately followed by fireworks, sponsored by Borlase & Co Solicitors, being set off in front of the Grylls Monument.

Local band Cornish Roots will play on the stage from 7.45pm to 8.30pm and there will be musical entertainment at other parts of the town also, with performances in front of the Guildhall and in Meneage Street - including a special surprise near JC Williams at 8pm.

People are advised to arrive early to grab a bite to eat from one of Helston’s various cafes and takeaways that will be staying open late for the event, or from visiting traders serving hog roast, burgers, jacket potatoes and hot doughnuts.

Mr Williams said: "I'd like to thank my loyal and dedicated Christmas lights crew who have worked tirelessly over the last few months getting ready for the big switch on. New support cables - generously paid for by Helston Town Council who own all the light displays - that suspend the decorations up in the air have been made and all the wall fixings have been stress-tested to comply with new stringent regulations.

"It’s taken the last four weekends to put all the lights up, all voluntary time starting at 6am to get ahead of the traffic and sometimes not finishing until tea time. Thanks to Wetherspoons and The Park Cafe for donating and discounting breakfasts for the crew on the Sunday mornings."

He described donations as "vitally important" to help keep the town lit up each year, as there have been lots of expenses this year - the insurance alone costing almost £3,000 for programme of festive events and the account currently sitting at below zero.

Collectors will be in town on the night, by Lloyd’s Bank and the main stage, or donations can be sent to JC Williams Furnishers, 10 Meneage Street, Helston TR13 8AB, with cheques made out to Helston Christmas Lights.

Mr Williams added: "I’d like to personally thank Bob Cowell for generously allowing us to store and work on the lights, free of charge, at his farm opposite the Wheal Dream. We are very grateful of this facility and would be stuck without it."

Also take place on Fridays leading to Christmas are the children’s lantern parade on December 8 and reindeer in front of the Monument on December 15.

Santa will be in town on all three evenings in his newly constructed mobile grotto/cabin, offering presents for all children.