Mum of brave schoolgirl Sophie Fairall left 'overwhelmed' after Portchester home is transformed into Santa's Grotto to fundraise in her memory

A HOUSE in Portchester has been turned into a magical Santa’s Grotto to raise money in honour of brave cancer patient Sophie Fairall.

Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 2:59 pm
Updated Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 3:45 pm

The Brogan family home in Lancaster Close has been adorned with lights, snowmen, and a fake snow machine to entertain neighbours and passers-by – and raising money for a worthy cause in the process.

Over the last month, the family – Lee, Karen, and their 10-year-old daughter - have been dressing up as Santa and his helpers to raise money for rare cancer research charity Alice’s Arc, with every penny raised done so in the memory of Fareham cancer patient and brave schoolgirl Sophie Fairall.

The inspirational 10-year-old died surrounded by family in her Stubbington home in September, a year after she was diagnosed with rhabdomyosarcoma, rare type of cancer that forms in children’s soft tissue.

The grotto with Santa on the balcony as children enjoy the foam snow. Picture: Keith Woodland (181221-7)

Karen said that she had followed Sophie’s journey through social media posts from her mum, Charlotte, and decided that the family’s Christmas decorations should be put to good use.

The 53-year-old Portchester resident said: ‘Everyone felt really, really touched by her story – they are an amazing family.

‘She’s so brave and it’s touched the hearts of so many people.

‘We wanted to help make a difference.

Sophie Fairall

‘This is the second year we have put on a show like this, but it’s the first time we have raised money for a charity.’

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So far the family have raised close to £100 from visitors, with Billie becoming Billie the Elf and handing out candy canes to visiting children, while Santa – also known as Lee - has been ensuring everyone gets a good covering of snow from the snow machine.

Visiting the Santa’s Grotto, Sophie’s mum said she was ‘overwhelmed’ by the generosity of people touched by her daughter’s story.

Charlotte Fairall, Billie Lee, and Karen Brogan with Portchester's Santa. Picture: Keith Woodland (181221-27)

Charlotte Fairall said: ‘I was just amazed that someone we didn’t know would want to go out of their way to help the charity. I’m overwhelmed. It means so much to us that people want to go out of their way to help.

‘This type of cancer needs funding – nothing has changed for so long. So this makes a big difference.’

More than £75,0000 has been raised for Alice’s Arc in honour of Sophie since the school girl died earlier this year, according to the charity.

Charlotte added: ‘Every single penny counts.’

The Portchester family have been raising money in memory of Sophie Fairall. Picture: Keith Woodland (181221-11)

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Local children enjoying the foam snow Picture: Keith Woodland (181221-18)
People visiting the grotto are silhouetted against the lights. Picture: Keith Woodland (181221-37)