Almondsbury family's iconic Christmas lights display switched on for the final time

Sue and Graham Hawkes have been lighting up their house in Cope Park since 2006 Credit: Oliver Bentley

A family in Almondsbury who have become famous for their incredible Christmas lights display each year have hosted their final switch-on.

Sue and Graham Hawkes have been lighting up their house in Cope Park since 2006, where they usually raise money for Bristol-based charities Paul’s Place and St Peter’s Hospice.

What started as simply a dedication to a family relative who suffered a stroke has turned into a local tradition celebrated by many visitors.

This year, they hosted the switch-on for their display on Sunday (28 November) - but it is the last time the family will light up their home before a move to Cornwall.

This year's display was the last time the family will switch on the lights. Credit: Oliver Bentley

Graham Hawkes said: “I’m quite sad in a way because obviously we’ve been doing this for a long time and we’ve got grandchildren that love it, as well as our neighbours that enjoy the display.

“I don’t know if we will do it the same way anymore, but we hope to keep it just a family affair after this.”

After announcing their retirement in Cornwall on their Facebook page on October 26, the comments were filled with messages of support and well wishes to Sue and Graham.

“The feedback on our Facebook has been so positive as people are commenting about their excitement about seeing the lights so hopefully it’ll be a great year,” said Graham.

“But we had lots of messages asking why we were leaving all of a sudden and we had to explain that we were retiring and moving away. Then we had many emails and people knocking on our door asking if we were selling our house.

"Our house sold within a couple of days and we didn’t even go through a real estate agent. It’s officially gone so this year will now have to be our last.”

Each year the couple raise money for Bristol charities. Credit: Oliver Bentley

Graham added: “I’m amazed by how many people come to our switch-on and how many people visit our house night after night to see the display. It has overwhelmed us and we never even expected to raise the amount of money we did.

“We only planned to raise a few hundred pounds for a local charity that needed it and it has grown over the past 15 years.”

So far, the couple have raised a total of £60,000, and they are hoping to raise over £70,000. However, they are worried that due to the pandemic, it may affect donations and subsequently the charities.

Last year, following Tier 3 restrictions, the Christmas lights display was forced to shut down due a high concern of safety as numerous people were visiting each night.

Graham said: “It didn’t go as planned and because of what happened, it knocked the donations off and the charities suffered the most from that.

“We just tried to do the best we could but again, this year I checked in with my neighbours who were all happy to do it."

The couple are looking forward to enjoying their remaining time in Cope Park before they move away.

“All my neighbours say that they’ll be really sad to see us go because they all look forward to it, even though during the weekends, it gets really congested in our little square.

"It’s once a year, it’s for a good cause and it makes them feel Christmassy as well.

"We’ve been doing this for over a decade and 15 seems like the right number to end it on now.”