Family home is festive lights feast

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Published: Wednesday 17th December 2014 by The News Editor

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A quiet suburb has become something of a Christmas attraction as one house’s festive lights draws in growing crowds each year.

For Lee and Paul Brailsford, Christmas starts in October as they gear up for their charity light display. The brothers raise tens of thousands of pounds for charity each year and this Christmas they have already raised more than £22,000.

Lee 37, and Paul, 35, spend six or seven hours a day each weekend for two months setting up their installation in the run-up to the big event.

This year, their December 1 switch-on attracted around 2,000 admirers to Brentry, Bristol – more than some shopping centres draw in for their events .

The set includes a life-size nativity scene imported from America with 5ft tall figures and countless festive lights.

The first night even included people from the local community dressed up as characters from Disney film Frozen.

Lee said: “We raised £2,700 which is massive for a first night.”

The brothers hope to raise £30,000 f or Wallace & Gromit’s Grand Appeal at Bri stol Children’s Hospital.

Lauren Howard, fundraising manager for the Grand Appeal, said: “We are delighted that the Brailsford Lights are raising funds to support the Grand Appeal – the Christmas lights display is a really special event and has become a Bristol festive tradition for families.

“Each year they raise an amazing total for our charity and are hoping to reach their £30,000 target this year. We are hugely grateful for all their support for sick children and babies at Bristol Children’s Hospital at Christmas time.”

Lee said: “My kids were quite young when we started doing the lights for charity. Kids and Christmas go hand in hand so we thought why not help the kids.

“It’s nice to know it’s for a cause that a lot of people will benefit from. It’s a good feeling inside to know you’ve done something – it’s worth it when you see the amount of kids that benefit from it.”

It all started on Boxing Day back in 1994 for the brothers, when Lee was just 18, and they found Christmas lights selling at half price in B&Q.

This year the family have got a several sponsors contributing towards the electricity cost.

The display will cost an extra £700 in electricity, running from around 4.45pm until 10.15pm every day until January 2 – although admirers wait outside from 4:30pm .

The brothers use their mum’s house for the display because it is the biggest – and also to store the lights. ” Mum’s loft is stuffed with them,” said Lee.

He added: ” We’ve got a big double garage and we used to be able to fit three cars in there – you’d maybe fit a small mini in there now.

“Each year we try and spend £200 to £300 on half price lights just to keep it all updated.”

He said their mum is always nervous on the switch-on night that something might blow out. He added: ” But she’s quite happy for us to use her canvas to do our painting on, so to speak .”

Around five years ago, young thieves tried to break into the collection box but dropped a mountain bike when chased by the brothers.

The family raffled the bike off too – which paid for an eight -camera CCTV system which now monitors the display each year.

The neighbours are very understanding about the family’s display. ” We commandeer their driveways to set up the sound systems – in our street the whole community joins in which is brilliant, ” said t he brothers .

The pair do not intend to give up any time soon – Lee said he is looking forward to the next year’s display even when he’s taking the previous year’s lights down.

Donations can be made at www.brailsfordlights.co.uk

Published: Wednesday 17th December 2014 by The News Editor

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