Families get on board with Christmas lights tradition at their homes in Yate

Gazette Series: The Smith and Trembling houses on Westerleigh Road in Yate The Smith and Trembling houses on Westerleigh Road in Yate

TWO families who love Christmas are lighting up their street to spread some festive cheer and help a local charity.

Juanita Smith and her brother Roy Trembling have certainly given the neighbours something to talk about after illuminating their houses, which are next door to each other on Westerleigh Road in Yate, with thousands of twinkling lights, signs and even a life-size train.

Mrs Smith, and her husband Brian, and Mr Trembling, and his wife Phyllis, have made the outside of their homes something of a seasonal attraction with parents bringing their young children to see the decorations every night.

But the festivities do not end with the lights - together with their children, grandchildren and other members of the families, the couples are helping to raise money for their chosen charity, CLIC Sargent, by asking for donations in return for a chance to see Santa and his elves and snowmen.

“It is a real family effort,” said Gail Phillips, Mr and Mrs Smith’s daughter. “Everyone likes to get involved somehow, whether it was making the train, putting up the lights over several weekends or standing out in the cold every night giving away sweets to the children who visit.

“It is a proper family tradition now and a lot of fun. The reaction we get from people is brilliant and it is really surprising the amount of people who keep coming back to see us.”

Last year the decorations raised £1,800 for CLIC and this year it is hoped Santa, who will be on board on his special delivery train festooned with Christmas lights every night from 5.30pm to 7.30pm until Christmas Eve, will raise a similar amount. A small army of elves, snowmen and even a turkey will hand out sweets and presents to young visitors and for a donation passers by can buy official CLIC Sargent dog toys.

“It is a real commitment on our part,” added Mrs Phillips, whose husband Gary made the train. “It can get very cold standing there but then you think we are having fun and helping others at the same time.

“We like Christmas a lot in our family. Mum and dad didn’t decorate the outside of their house when we were little but one year we bought a few decorations and it just went from there.

“We have been doing this for charity for the past four years now and every year we like to have a theme. This year it is the train but previously we have had Santa on his sleigh and in a little hut.

“No doubt we will do it again next year but we just need to think of a main attraction.”

In addition, Mrs Smith’s brother Terry, who runs Bitterwell Lake in Coalpit Heath, is organising a charity fishing match on Sunday, December 15 (from 8.45am) in aid of CLIC Sargent. There will also be a raffle and a barbecue. For more information call 07810 244692.

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