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Maidstone teenager raises money for Maidstone Day Centre with Christmas lights display once more


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A Maidstone teenager who has for the past three years raised money for the homeless with a Christmas lights display, is hoping people can show their support once more.

Callum Dunne, 15, who has autism, has once again transformed his garden into a winter wonderland, to fundraise for Maidstone Day Centre, which supports the homeless and vulnerable in the town.

Callum Dunne's home as it was decorated last year, to raise money for Maidstone Day Centre Picture: Barry Goodwin
Callum Dunne's home as it was decorated last year, to raise money for Maidstone Day Centre Picture: Barry Goodwin

The official switch on will take place tomorrow, at 6pm.

Callum’s annual display was in jeopardy earlier this year, after a fire destroyed all his lights in April. The decorations were kept in the shed, where the fire started, and which was burnt to the ground.

His family’s home was also damaged by the blaze, caused by an electrical fault. The windows and doors to the back of the property were affected, as well as the fence.

His sister’s car was destroyed by the fire too.

However, within a day, neighbours in the Queen Elizabeth Court Resident's Association had raised £500 for Callum to replace the lights.

On discovering the destruction, Callum said: “I was devastated because I was thinking it isn’t just effecting me. I know all the neighbours like to look at them.

Callum Dunne with his Christmas light display in Maidstone, two years ago
Callum Dunne with his Christmas light display in Maidstone, two years ago

"It could have upset other people as they wouldn't have been able to see them.

“I was debating whether to do it this year but there’s something in my saying to just do it.”

Callum’s dad, Patrick, added: “He was just so distraught, the lights are his pride and joy.”

However, thanks to generous neighbours and an insurance payout, Callum was able to buy new lights.

People have also given decorations too, and Callum was able to salvage a reindeer from the wreckage, which had been previously donated, and give it new lights.

Callum Dunne's Christmas lights display in 2020 Picture: Barry Goodwin
Callum Dunne's Christmas lights display in 2020 Picture: Barry Goodwin

Over the past week, the keen amateur photographer has been arranging the display in the garden.

The 15-year-old first started transforming his garden for the festive season in 2016, and the display has grown since then. The last two years have seen about a £1000 raised all together.

Last year's display was the biggest one yet, and Callum says it may be smaller this November, due to the fire, but visitors can still expect reindeers, a Christmas tree, stars and other festive figures.

"I have almost replaced all of them, but there's still a bit more to replace," he said.

His family are encouraging people to attend the light switch on tomorrow at 6pm.

To attend, go to 18 Queen Elizabeth Square, Maidstone.

After Saturday, the lights will be on every evening from 5pm-10pm, until Sunday, January 2.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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