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Dagenham house prepares for annual charity Christmas light display

PUBLISHED: 07:00 22 November 2018

The 2015 display, complete with snowmen, Santas and a giant Homer Simpson. Picture: Sandra Rowse

The 2015 display, complete with snowmen, Santas and a giant Homer Simpson. Picture: Sandra Rowse

COPYRIGHT S E ROWSE

A couple in Dagenham are turning their house into a winter wonderland as part of their annual fundraiser for St Francis Hospice.

Keith Torr (left) with his son, Jamie, from the display in 2013. Picture: submittedKeith Torr (left) with his son, Jamie, from the display in 2013. Picture: submitted

Giant inflatables, 47 different figures and eight sets of lights adorn the Torr house in Stockdale Road this year.

The unusual display of Christmas spirit by Keith Torr and his son, Jamie, has impressed the street for more than two decades, and raised more than £2,000 for the hospice.

It began as a way to cheer people at the bus stop near their previous house in Dagenham Heathway. Since they moved 17 years ago, it became a way to support a charity that helps the terminally ill.

Mr Torr said: “We just started off with a few lights and eventually it got bigger and bigger and bigger.

“Once we’d started, then every year we’d get people saying, ‘are you putting your lights up again?’. All the little kids would say, ‘are you going to do this, are you going to do that?’”

A full time carer, Keith plans the display a month in advance with his son, who was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of two. Jamie, now 23, has been helping his dad since he was a child.

Sometimes sketching the decoration, the pair mostly rely on their imaginations to arrange the collection, which stuffs the loft for the rest of the year.

For Mr Torr and his wife, Sharon, the best part is the reaction.

“It’s seeing all the kids’ faces when they’re going to school,” he said.

“They come and look at what we’ve put up. We do it gradually over a few weeks, so they notice more things.”

The display is not without its challenges, with the lights and icicles for the roof proving especially troublesome.

“I’m not the best at going up ladders, but I do it,” Keith said.

But for now, the lights are out. A countdown is live outside the Torr household and is set to reach zero at 3pm on December 1.

When it does, the family will mark the lighting with a raffle, free tea and coffee, and food stalls.

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