A TADLEY man has been working for the last two months to transform his house into a Christmas grotto to raise funds for a children’s ward at a local hospital.
Richard Saunders, of Birch Road, decorated his house and built a Santa’s grotto in his front garden to raise funds for children in the G2 Unit at the Basingstoke and North Hampshire Hospital.
Mr Saunders said: “I’ve got two young boys and my eldest, Ethan, was in hospital over Christmas a couple of years ago.
“He came home for Christmas Day, but was in there on Christmas Eve and Boxing Day so we know how just little things for the kids can make the difference when they’re in hospital.
“We’re just trying to get them some colouring books and pens and things like that.
“I think a lot of people of forget about the kids in hospital at Christmas so I just wanted to do something for them.”
Work started on the project at the beginning of October, when Mr Saunders started building the grotto in a tent in the garden.
He saw the fruits of his labours realised on December 7, when the lights were switched on, despite his wife Kayleigh telling him he was spending too much time on the project.
He said: “It was a very good turnout of people, and we’ll leave them on until probably the second week in January.”
Mr Saunders’ sons, Ethan, aged four, and Albie, one, loved the decorations and Mr Saunders said: “It’s just been fantastic, coming home and seeing the look on the children’s faces.
“Little Albie will disappear and you’ll wonder where he’s gone and he’ll be banging on the front door to go and look at it.”
His charity venture had also proved a local attraction, with music getting visitors in the Christmas spirit.
“There’s been a flow of people coming each night to see it,” he said. “I don’t expect a lot, even just one or two pence but it all helps. We’ve done really well in just a few nights.”
Children paying a visit to the grotto can take part in a colouring competition and post completed entries in a mailbox, to win prizes donated by Sainsbury’s Tadley.
Funds raised will be taken to the hospital in January, and Mr Saunders was hoping to host a concert on Friday, December 23.
Any help in organising this would be appreciated – contact Mr Saunders on 07901 534296.