The event is organised by young farmer, Graham Witter, 23, to raise funds for the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice and we met with him to find what inspired him and how he hopes to top the £40,000 he’s already raised for this amazing charity.
As soon as you meet Graham you’re aware that he is a very special young man, you’re blown away by his drive and commitment to his fund-raising project which began in 2013.
How did this all start?
My younger sister, Jessica, had an absolute fascination with colours and lights; she had a number of complex medical issues and health problems, but no matter how poorly she was, she just loved to watch lights and colours.
We put lights up at Christmas, which she loved, so each year we’d put up a few more, then a few more, until in 2013 a friend suggested we open the display to the public. I thought that was a great idea, we wouldn’t charge for entry, but we’d ask for donations which we’d give to the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice
Despite only being open on the final run-up to Christmas and with nothing but word of mouth to tell people what was going on, we raised £1,000; I knew we were on to something then.
What happened next?
We scaled things up a bit in 2014 and raised £5,720, which was pretty awesome and in the following year, 2015, we raised £10,280. Very sadly this was the last year that Jessica was able to enjoy the lights as she passed away on New Year’s Eve.
For the 2016 display we put Jessica’s name up in lights, she would really have loved that and we tried harder than ever to promote the lights and explain why we spend so much time and energy putting on the display.
Donna Louise Children’s Hospice supported Jessica and our whole family, in so many ways, with respite care, family support, home activities and all round kindness, they were always there for us all.
I know you’re very modest but didn’t you win an award?
Yes! In the 2016 Pride of Crewe Awards I won the Community Individual Award, in recognition of my fund-raising. I dedicated the award to my wonderful sister Jessica, who was the inspiration behind our original display.
I was immensely proud to be part of the evening, if a bit speechless to win the award!
So, what are you doing for 2017?
This year local family business Swansway Motor Group has stepped up to be the principal sponsor. It’s been great having other people to bounce ideas off and knowing that they want to support me in smashing my previous fund-raising total. 2016 was an amazing year, we raised £22,680, so we’ve set ourselves a target of cracking the £30,000 barrier and I’m hoping we’ll do it!
As well as the light display, we have some great raffle prizes including a Land Rover Experience day; dinner, bed and breakfast at Peckforton Castle and many more. We’re going to be running a competition in conjunction with the Stoke Sentinel and the Crewe Chronicle, the prize is a VIP family trip to the pantomime at the Crewe Lyceum, and we’ll be launching that mid-September.
How can people see the Weston Lights?
We switch the lights on 1st December until 28th December, and they’re on from 6:15pm – 9:00pm at night. Santa Claus visits us on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and all we ask is that you and your family have an amazing time and your donation, no matter how large or small will be so very much appreciated by the Donna Louise Children’s Hospice.
GRAHAM’S FUND-RAISING JOURNEY
2013 - £1,000 – Fund refurbishment of children's bedrooms
2014 - £5,720 – Fund additional nursing staff and their training
2015 - £10,280 – Fund new lighting equipment in the sensory room
2016 - £22,680 – Help equip the new purpose-built facility for young adults