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I'm dreaming of a bright Christmas: 50,000-light display illuminates family home

Published 02/12/2015

Brothers Lee (left) and Paul Brailsford who illuminate their mother's house with thousands of festive bulbs and displays for charity
Brothers Lee (left) and Paul Brailsford who illuminate their mother's house with thousands of festive bulbs and displays for charity

Hundreds of people have attended the switch-on of more than 50,000 Christmas lights - at a family home.

Lee and Paul Brailsford have been decorating their mother Rosemary's house in Brentry, Bristol, since 1994 to raise money for charity.

The brothers have since raised more than £30,000 for The Grand Appeal, the charity for Bristol Royal Hospital for Children.

The £10,000 display, featuring 70 light-up figures including Santas and snowmen, has taken six weekends to erect and they will spend three days taking it down.

It will be illuminated for six hours a day for 31 days - a total of 186 hours - following the big switch-on on Tuesday night.

Visitors may be unaware of the 200,000 metres of cabling used but will spot the biggest item, a rare life-sized nativity set which came from the US.

Lee Brailsford said: "We started decorating the house more than 20 years ago, and each year it's got bigger and bigger.

"We wanted to raise money for The Grand Appeal as Paul and I both have young children, and we realised how lucky we are to have such a fantastic hospital right on our doorstep if ever we needed it. We raised more than £8,000 last year alone, and would love to do even better this Christmas.

"The switch-on is a lot of work but it's also really exciting. All our friends and family come along to help and the whole community turns out to see the lights go on.

"The reaction when we press the button for the first time makes it all worthwhile.

"We are really proud that it has become such an important part of people's Christmases, as well as having raised so much money for such a brilliant cause."

The Brailsfords' first decoration was a small light-up Christmas tree but their collection now includes 15 Santas, 10 reindeer and 10 snowmen.

There are 30 sets of rope lights, 10 sets of twinkling icicles, 50 rope-light shapes, trains, elves, soldiers and the light-up nativity on a specially built stage.

Most of the lights come from local supplies, with the brothers stocking up on new items in the January sales each year.

Last year, the display raised £8,100 for charity - its most successful Christmas so far.

This year, in a nod to Bristol's status as European Green Capital, the Brailsfords have started to convert all of the 50,000 bulbs to LEDs.

The display costs around £600 to run, with 19 different local companies sponsoring this year's display to help cover costs and provide equipment for the switch-on.

Nicola Masters, director of The Grand Appeal, said: "The Brailsford family has been supporting The Grand Appeal with their amazing lights display for many years, and we're so grateful for their incredible support.

"The switch-on has become something people from all over the region really look forward to and the event that really gets people into the Christmas spirit.

"As well as bringing so much Christmas spirit to the community, the money raised has helped our charity to support countless sick children at Bristol Children's Hospital, and their families.

"Every penny raised will help Bristol Children's Hospital to continue to provide them with the very best care, and make their Christmas that little bit brighter."

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