‘We’ve spoken about doing this for a couple of years but, seeing as it’s not been a great time for anyone recently, this seemed like the year to go for it.’ Recca, a personal care assistant and mum of six from Hull, is from one of six neighbouring houses that have joined forces to create a veritable feast for the eyes, bringing much-needed Christmas Cheer to their local community.
More than 30,000 bulbs now fill the space between the houses and, for seven hours every evening, the neighbours welcome visitors from far and wide who come to enjoy the display.
Neighbours Coming Together
‘Most of us have lived down here for a long time so we are all really good friends. We all help each other out with anything anyone needs. Everyone has kids. So, during lockdown, we spent a lot of time in our gardens talking to each other.’
In April, Recca’s husband Mike was scheduled to complete the Hull 10km race. He was determined not to let the cancellation of the event deter him. The Hull Trains employee relocated his treadmill to the garden and completed the challenge there instead … in a full suit of armour!
With the neighbours cheering Mike on over the fences, discussion turned to other events they could enjoy together. And so the joint Christmas light project came to be.
Recca and her neighbours certainly aren’t alone. The lockdown has seen the discovery or renewal of friendships with our neighbours throughout the UK and we have adjusted to socialising outdoors more. This, coupled with a desperate desire to bring positivity into our lives despite the enormous challenge of this year, has resulted in a huge increase in focus on external decorations this Christmas.
Supermarket giant ASDA reported a 57% increase in festive light sales in its third-quarter report1 and, across the board, there has been a rise in sales of Christmas décor noted by the industry.
There’s No Such Thing As Too Many Lights!
‘It took just over a week to create the initial display with the multi-coloured lights linking the houses on either side of the path’. Each family was responsible for decorating their own house, with Mike passing the large strings of fairy lights back and forth between families to create the sparkling ceiling.
‘We did a big switch on and it was lovely. But, a couple of days later we decided to get some more! Mike made archways across the path and then one of the neighbours decorated them. The whole thing was brilliant because everyone did their bit; it really was a team effort. And, now we have over 30,000 lights in total between the houses. And we keep adding more too!’
It must be simply magical to admire that ceiling of lights, or stand in the centre – completely immersed in such an incredible sensory spectacular! We asked Recca which was her favourite part of the display. ‘The arches for sure; they really make the display even though they were a last minute addition. My kids just love all the colours. The youngest two spend a lot of time sitting at the window staring at them all.’
Spreading Christmas Cheer
Although it was originally only intended to brighten December days for the group themselves and their immediate neighbours, the dazzling display has certainly attracted lots of attention. ‘I shared it on some Christmas pages and local ones and we’ve had lots of people ask to come see them and lots have popped down to take pictures too. A lot of people have said how much it has cheered them up seeing the lights and we’ve had messages from all over the country. It’s really been amazing and has really lifted everyone’s spirits.’
Recca explained that it never occurred to the group that the display would warrant collection of donations by visitors. ‘We were just doing it to make this year a bit more special. Seeing the kids pop down and the looks on their faces is enough.’ However, a few of the visitors arriving have asked if they can make a donation in thanks for the display. And so Mike decided to extend his fundraising from the run earlier this year. To avoid handling cash, the group set up a JustGiving page for Action for Children for anyone wishing to donate.
This is Just The Beginning…
There is no doubt that the neighbours have been bitten by the Christmas Lights bug. We asked if it’ll be hard to turn off the display after Christmas. Recca replied, ‘Of course!’ but was quick to add that they will be starting early with their planning for next year. ‘We are going to go even bigger and do it for a local charity.’ So, watch out Hull; there’s going to be stiff competition for Christmas lights in the stores next year 😉
Thanks to Recca for sharing her story, and to Recca and her husband Mike, together with neighbours Caroline, Daryl, Elena, Emma, Ian, Kate, Maureen, Rob & Roger for their beautiful display.
If you’ve enjoyed the photos about and would like to help spread some Christmas cheer by donating to Action for Children, please visit the group’s JustGiving page here. We are passionate about sharing every Act of Christmas Kindness we can, no matter the size or form. Check out other heart-warming tales here.
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