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Maidstone teenager hosts Christmas light switch-on at home for Maidstone Day Centre

A teenage boy has transformed his front garden into a winter wonderland with his very own Christmas light switch-on in aid of a homeless charity.

Callum Dunne decorated his home in Queen Elizabeth Square with festive trees, lights and giant Santas for the socially distanced display.

Callum Dunne has set up the festive display to raise money for Maidstone Day Centre.
Callum Dunne has set up the festive display to raise money for Maidstone Day Centre.

This is the third year in a row The Malling School Tydeman Centre pupil has hosted the event to raise vital funds for Maidstone Day Centre and its work supporting the homeless through the winter.

With other festivities cancelled this year, the 14-year-old was determined not to let the virus change the tradition as he feels the charity needs help now more than ever.

Callum said: "It's not nice for people to have to sleep outside in the cold, especially at Christmas so I want the money to help them.

"This year lots more people have lost their jobs so there are more people that need support.

"I don't want a homeless person to feel left out and I want to give them a chance to enjoy Christmas."

Last year Callums display, inspired by his favourite Christmas film 'Deck the Halls', featured a modest 21 lights.

Now he says there are around 10,000 bulbs illuminating his street.

His dad, Patrick Dunne, who has supported Callum through his struggles with autism, said he is so proud of his son for putting in so much effort.

He said: "This is all Callum's idea, it's him who chooses the lights, it's him who decides where they should all go, and it's him who chose the charity.

"I'm so proud of him and every year the display just gets bigger and bigger so this is the brightest it has ever been."

Callum switched on the lights this evening. Picture: Barry Goodwin.
Callum switched on the lights this evening. Picture: Barry Goodwin.

Last Christmas, Callum raised more than £500 for the charity, a target he hopes to beat this year.

Angela Clay, the company secretary for homeless care at Maidstone Day Centre, said: "Callum's light display was amazing and spread so much cheerfulness and happiness which we have been short of for a while.

"We were delighted last year when he contacted us and we are delighted again this year, I love his enthusiasm.

"The money Callum raised will go towards operating the day centre and providing for people who would otherwise be hungry and cold this winter.

"People like Callum are really inspiring, especially as he is a young man who could be doing something else just for him, instead he is doing it for all the homeless people in the area and we are so grateful and impressed."

The lights will be proudly shining each night between 6pm and 10pm until January 6.

Two collection pots have been put out alongside a sign telling passers by about Callum's fundraiser.

The red one is for donations to the day centre, and the blue one is for Callum to add more lights to his display next year.

Callum is also taking donations through a Virgin Money Giving page.

Read more: All the latest news from Maidstone

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