Lighting up the Banks

Neighbours in Medway set up a festive trail to help people feel some Christmas spirit despite the pandemic – and have raised more than £2,000 for charity.

With Covid-19 numbers rising in many areas the government announced the arrival of Tier 4 which placed many areas in the South into the highest category. Christmas for these areas seemed like a lonely prospect for most, but one place which did not allow their community spirit to die was Darland Banks in Medway, Kent.

At the start of December, the community came together to organise an “Advent Trail”. This involved 24 volunteers who would be given a certain day in the month to create a window of Christmas decorations. Each house number was added to a map that people could look for on their daily walks. Donations of food, money and other essentials could also be made at some of the houses and the proceedings would be given to Medway Foodbank.

Barry Royden, 54, is a local athlete who decided to follow the map on his evening run every day with his dog Oakley. He said the lights were a very lovely display: “They were very bright and reminded me that Christmas cheer still exists, even during a global pandemic.”

The scheme was a great success and even included a visit from Father Christmas on the last day of the trail, providing socially-distanced photo opportunities for all local children. Sarah Kenyon, 50 who lives on Hunters Way West, saw the flocks of people appear on her road on the last night and said it was “a joy during an uncertain time”.

Overall, the fund raiser managed to secure nearly £2000, using a Golden Giving page, as well as direct donations. Locals have said it was an impressive and commendable amount that shows the true meaning of Christmas and community spirit.

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