How fairy lights are brightening one of Britain’s friendliest roads

A Richmond neighbourhood recently lit up their homes with fairy lights to bring a glimmer of hope during winter.

Whitton residents launched the Winter Lights and Sparkle campaign on 1 October, inviting neighbours to put up fairy lights for up to six months.

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Campaign founder Jo-Anne said: “There’s a lot of people suffering with mental health problems and feeling lonely.

“When people go for walks, or if we go into lockdown and people are isolating, they can look outside and see a few bright lights, which might cheer people up.”

She added that lighting up the streets could also make children feel safer on their walk home from school, especially as the days get shorter.

The campaign is centred on lights because they’re cheap and easy to find, meaning everyone can get involved.

The campaign’s Facebook group now has over 200 members, who post pictures of their decorated homes and share suggestions for where to find affordable fairy lights. 

Whitton is known for its community spirit, with Cedar Avenue voted one of Britain’s friendliest streets in an In Good Company competition in May.

During lockdown, Jo-Anne, 50, said residents organised events, including decorating the streets with colourful bunting and daily ‘Tea at Three’, where residents would gather outside for a cup of tea.

She explained this was an opportunity to check in on the neighbourhood’s elderly residents, particularly those whose families lived further away and needed groceries. 

The resident of six years said: “The street is so friendly, and really came into its own during lockdown. 

“People are going to find it difficult if we go into another lockdown, but they’ll always feel they’ve got neighbours that are close, and if they need anything, they know they can ask for it.”

THE BRIGHT SIDE: Residents Surender Singh and Lesley-Ann Sutherland beam next to their fairy lights

Over summer Cedar Avenue hosted numerous charitable events, including a sunflower competition where people decorated plant pots and the tallest sunflower won a prize.

This raised almost £500 for Age UK, a leading charity for older people, and residents are now fundraising for MacMillan Cancer Support’s Go Sober For October campaign.

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