Festive spirit at grandmother’s Christmas grotto

A ''Father Christmas helper with fund-raiser Julie Scarborough ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (123854-9595)
A ''Father Christmas helper with fund-raiser Julie Scarborough ''Picture: Malcolm Wells (123854-9595)
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IT must be one of the most festive homes in the country – a winter wonderland full to the brim with presents for all the family.

Grandmother Julie Scarborough, 77, transforms her Widley bungalow into a festive paradise every year – and it’s all for a great cause.

With her team of a dozen helpers she puts on lots of festive cheer to raise money for Naomi House Children’s Hospice, near Winchester.

Friends dress up as reindeer to provide sleigh rides in her driveway while Father Christmas sets up home in the front room, converted into a grotto, where everyone aged one to 100 is entitled to a gift.

Julie, of The Crest, said: ‘It was torrential rain and the poor reindeer was wet and cold but it was the most wonderful atmosphere.

‘Hot soup, tea, bread rolls and hot water bottles kept them going and they made sure everyone had lots of fun.

‘There are presents here for everyone but sometimes it’s a bit difficult persuading the dads to pick up their gift from Father Christmas.

‘But I tell them, “you’ve paid your £1.50, you’re entitled”.’

Every room in the house is decorated with tinsel and holly and has a different theme.

In the music room, youngsters and their parents can take part in sing-songs and play instruments while listening to musicians play guitar.

Julie said: ‘We were lucky enough to have a chap in the music room for the day who is in his 90s.

‘He said it was the most wonderful experience he’d had in a long time. He said the atmosphere was so happy and he’d never been made to feel so welcome before.’

Julie has a team of 30 volunteers who she can call upon to help at her Christmas grotto.

There are lots of items on sale and a tombola where you win every time and can pick your own prize.

Saturday’s event raised around £200 for the charity and Julie is hoping to reach her target of £1,000 with another two events to come.

Julie says she hopes as many members of the public go along as possible.

The next event is on Saturday and is followed by the final grotto on December 8. The address is 9 The Crest, Widley, PO7 5DG.

Doors open 10.30am to 4pm.