Reporter Jonathan White, Wistaston
Graham Witter, aged 22, is a final year Business Management degree student and Pride of Crewe - Community Individual Award Winner 2016.
He setup hundreds of Christmas lights where he lives at Carters Green Farm in Weston to raise money for charity.
His Christmas light display took place every day from 1st to 28th December 2016. The display covered a farmhouse, a garden, an adjacent yard and a barn and contained a combination of rope lights, LED lights and animated 3D figures, along with background Christmas music. There was also a small wooden Santa’s Grotto and a life-size Santa's sleigh. A new feature was a 1950s Whitby Morrison Mr Whippy ice cream van. Santa himself even made an appearance every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and the last few days before Christmas. It took Graham six weeks to set it all up.
Graham raised £1,000 in 2013, £5,720 in 2014, £10,280 in 2015 and an incredible £22,680 during the 2016 display. Thus, he has raised close to £40,000 during the past four years.
For the fourth year running all the money has gone to The Donna Louise Children's Hospice - http://www.donnalouisetrust.org/ - who provided respite care for his teenage sister Jessica. Jessica peacefully passed away on 31st December 2015, having enjoyed the event for many years. Graham decided to continue with his display in her memory.
The £22,680 raised in 2016 will be used by The Donna Louise Children's Hospice to help equip and support the new hospice build to provide care to young adults post 19 years old.
Graham presented the cheque to The Donna Louise Children's Hospice in Trentham in their fully refurbished sensory room that the £10,280 from the 2015 display helped to fund.
Nikki Wrench, Challenge Events Manager at The Donna Louise Children's Hospice, said, “I am so happy you got to share your amazing event with everyone in the community. The money you and your team have raised through community support is truly overwhelming, and will help us so much! I would also like to thank you for being more than a fundraiser - you are a really fantastic ambassador for the hospice and it has been my pleasure to work with you over the years.”
Graham said, “It has always been my pleasure to organise the ‘Weston Christmas Light Display’ for a children’s hospice which has done so much for my family. My late sister Jessica, had a truly amazing fascination with colour, light and sound, which was my inspiration in 2013 to organise a local community Winter Wonderland!
I started decorating the house with animated characters, filling the garden with inflatables and making our family home like a mini ‘North-Pole’! It enabled me to bring our community together whilst creating a local family tradition which many families and young children can enjoy.
But at the heart of this event was a ‘thank-you’ for all the respite care, family support and home activities the care team provided my sister. After losing my close sibling in December 2015 and having raised £17,000, I felt that I should continue my event in her memory. With new lighting ideas, a festive ‘Mr Whippy’ van and the opportunity for a ‘Sleigh Selfie with Santa’ the 2016 display delivered an astounding success, raising £22,680.
I have so much satisfaction that my time, commitment and dedication is helping improve the lives of children, young people and their families across our community. To know my event has thrilled festive visitors, but most importantly, improved services the hospice can offer, gives me satisfaction to continue my fundraising. Exciting plans are being drawn together for another successful event this year, so it will be another Winter Wonderland for everyone to enjoy!”
For further information relating to the Weston Christmas Light Display please visit: https://www.facebook.com/westonlightdisplay