A RETIRED electrician who spent weeks setting up his annual Christmas lights display for charity is disappointed with the donations people are making this year.
Roger Deane, of Coleview, has set up a festive extravaganza in his front garden to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support in memory of his late wife and son.
The great-grandfather-of-three, who has been putting up lights outside his home in Harlestone Road since 1993, is urging people who come to see them to remember to donate – because on Tuesday night he only raised £1 for the charity.
“We see people come up in their cars, look at the lights, and drive up and turn around. There are plenty of signs up. Even if people only put 50p in the box it’s better than nothing,” he said.
“We pay for all the electricity and lights out of our own pocket. Last year it cost us about £400 to pay for the lights and we gave £300 of donations to Macmillan. This year we have made less than £100.
“I know times are hard but it would be nice if people could get out of their cars and come and donate. On Tuesday night we only took £1 in five hours. Swindon is a big place. There are many thousands of people in the town that could come along and have a look.”
The lights this year are in memory of Roger’s wife, Christine, who died of leukaemia in 1989 at the age of 40, and his son, Andrew, who died of skin cancer in 2010.
The display, which he started working on in October, includes strings of lights, a giant snowman, a nativity scene and a reindeer.
Roger, who used to work as an electrician for the RAF, started in the trade when he worked for his father in Marlborough – where he also put the Christmas lights up in the High Street.
He met his present wife, Eileen, three years after Christine died and it was then that he started putting lights up outside his home.
Roger thinks he has spent a couple of thousand pounds on lights and decorations since, and many of them have been bought from America.
Roger and Eileen have raised funds for different charities over the years, with the biggest total reaching £500, which was given to Swindon Guide Dogs in 2000.
“If people can donate that is great. I want people to stop, get out, and have a look around and donate some money to Macmillan Cancer Support,” said Roger.
“I love doing it and the grandchildren really love it too.”
Christine Minns, 64, of Coleview, was walking past the display on Wednesday evening and donated some coins.
“We’ve driven past it many times. It’s very good because he does it all for charity every time. We always come and put a little bit of money in the box for him,” she said.
John Taylor, 71, who lives nearby, said: “The lights are great. A lot of people come and have a look – a lot of people walk to see them.”
Another nearby resident, Kingsdown School pupil Jamie Matthews, 14, said: “It’s good because he’s doing it for a good cause. They change each year. When the lights come out it starts feeling like Christmas.”