The Lloyd-Jones family have spent hundreds of pounds transforming their Shaftesbury home with thousands of bulbs, illuminated Santas, penguins and reindeer. They hope that locals will view their stunning display and raise money for a club that helps North Dorset youngsters with special needs.
Keri Jones from Shaftesbury Community Radio, ThisIsAlfred, paid a visit.
The Lloyd-Jones’ house is tucked away on Fountains Mead, a quiet cul-de-sac not far from the A350 Grosvenor Road. You’ll spot it instantly. There’s a multi-coloured glow in the night sky above this end-terrace house. Its exterior is plastered with flashing holly leaves, sparkling snowmen and blinking bells. Blue glistening icicles dangle down from the roof.
Christine Lloyd-Jones opened the door and invited me inside. I squeezed past a life-sized, gyrating and singing Santa that almost filled the hallway! “Merry Christmas,” Santa chortled, before he burst into the chorus of ‘It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year’. “That’s great fun but I suspect he drives you up the pole – or the North Pole!” I said to Christine. She doesn’t mind, “But the little one, Sophie, hates it,” Christine laughed.
We walked through Christine’s highly decorated living room, past a Christmas tree ‘snowing’ small polystyrene flakes. The decorations at the front of the house are incredible but I wasn’t prepared for the breath-taking sight of her back garden display. “This is the main attraction,” exclaimed Christine’s daughter, Bev.
The space behind the house is packed with festive icons, 12-foot tall inflatable Santas, Christmas trees, moving illuminated reindeer and a mass of multi-coloured lights covering nearly every inch of wall or fence space. There’s no road at the back of the property, so you have to come inside the house to see this seasonal spectacle.
“We planned to have it up and running on 1st December. We have still got three more sets of lights to go up before Christmas day,” smiled Christine. “We have struggled because of the wind and the rain. The weather has blown it down. Bits have got soaking wet and we’ve had to replace them but now it is dry. We have a Santa there with an elf on a seesaw.” Christine pointed to the middle of her garden, where an illuminated mechanical display was moving up and down.
I asked Christine whether there was an electrician in the family. There isn’t. “We do need a generator next year,” Christine said. The family expects to spend around £200 on electricity between now and January. “It is worth it for the kids,” Christine said. This is the first time that Christine has decorated her home on such a large scale. “We’ve had lights out of the windows and running along the guttering before, but nothing of this size.”
Christine and her family have bought most of the decorations although they have negotiated some discounted rates and some of the display elements have been donated. “We have been given bits. And if we’ve seen somebody selling a cheap Christmas tree for £5 we’ve said ‘we’ll have that’ and we’ve put it in the garden and slung some lights on it.”
Christine’s daughter Bev has decided which decorations go where. “Mum goes on a mad shopping spree. I’m just more hands-on, hammering it all up. My dad does all of the electrics and I put the lights across the fences and the garden,” Bev explained.
The family are opening up their home and showing their handiwork to help Christine’s grandson Josh and his friends. The 18-year-old has autism and ADHD and he’s enjoyed attending the Hipp!!Bones youth club. It’s a special place for 11 to 19-year-olds with learning difficulties, disabilities and autism. “His social worker said ‘have you heard of this disability club that is in Gillingham?’ It’s every first and third Saturday of the month,” said Christine.
The family is welcoming visitors to see the magical lights if they offer a donation to the Hipp!!Bones initiative. Christine says she doesn’t mind answering the door to children and families each evening over the holiday season. “It is for the charity,” Christine said, adding that Hipp!Bones needs to generate its own cash. “It is all voluntary work and we don’t get anything from the government or the council. Anything we need, we have to fund raise for.”
Surprisingly, and sadly, the family have received no visitors to view the lights. “Nobody at all,” said Christine, who remains upbeat in the hope that people will soon come and donate.
Although the Lloyd-Jones family have decorated their home previously, Christine says that they’ve made a big effort as a fundraiser this year. You’ve probably seen regional TV coverage of the best-decorated homes around the west. Christine hopes that her Fountains Mead festive lights will be even better in 2019 and they could rival the domestic displays found in some of the larger population centres.
“We will definitely do it next year – just to keep Hipp!Bones going,” said Christine. “But we just enjoy doing it as well,” Bev added. “I have got two daughters and mum has got ten grandchildren so they love it and they can’t get enough of it.”
You’re welcome to call in and see the lights each day, until the New Year. Just knock on the door and make a small donation. Christine says that her house is easy to find. “We are at 16c Fountains Mead in Shaftesbury, SP7 8DE. From the Ivy Cross roundabout, which everybody knows, you take the second turn on the right and follow the road around, up the hill and take the next turning on the left. Then, follow the road down and you can’t mistake it. It is lit up!”