The maintenance team at a care organisation heroically overcame a series of last minute hurdles to turn their Christmas lights switch-on into a luminous triumph.
At one point organisers of the switching-on ceremony at Pendine Park in Wrexham had feared it would have to be called off.
It followed eleventh hour news that Santa and his team of helpers had been hit by illness, meaning some key members of the sleigh team could no longer attend.
Pendine Park artist in residence Sarah Edwards said: “That was bad enough but then a series of logistical setbacks added to our problems.
“We had difficulties with the original vehicle we planned to use for the sleigh tour, plus the weather turned really icy so the residents couldn’t gather outside as it was too cold for them.
“There were so many hiccups occurring one after another that at one stage we actually contemplated cancelling the whole thing.
“But our maintenance and grounds crew knew how disappointed our residents would be if we had to cancel.
“They weren’t going to let that happen and they put in a massive effort to make the show go on. I cannot thank them enough. They are real life superheroes.”
She said the team including Lee Williams, Paul James and Kevin Jones, are never ones to shy away from a challenge, especially when it means going the extra mile for the Pendine Park residents.
They valiantly went into action with only a few hours to go, calling for back-up from colleagues, some of whom volunteered their time off and stepped up to take on tasks originally due to be carried out by the ‘elves’ who were ill.
They also had to arrange for a last minute trailer and car to tow Santa’s magical decorated sleigh on its pre-scheduled tour around all the homes on the Summerhill site.
Sarah said: “They were absolutely amazing. They pulled out all the stops to ensure the big switch-on happened.”
Sarah also credited the maintenance team with coming up with the idea for the lights switch-on which was held for the first time last year.
It was dreamt up as a way of cheering up residents who had spent many months unable to have visits from loved ones due to the national pandemic lockdowns.
Sarah said: “Last year was the first time we held an official switch-on ceremony and Santa sleigh tour. It was a wonderful and fun way to herald the start of our December festive activities.
“All the residents loved it so much that we asked the maintenance crew to repeat it this year and we now hope it will become an annual tradition. But hopefully without the last minute hitches we had this time!”
Santa’s Elf and sleigh-ride assistant, Paul James, said it was heart-warming to see the residents laughing and cheering as the musical sleigh procession passed by each of the residential homes.
He said: “We all love doing this and there was no way that we were going to let the lights switch-on be called off no matter how many obstacles were thrown our way. It took some extra effort on the part of the whole team but it was more than worth it. Just to see the residents so happy is reward in itself.”
The effort was hugely appreciated by residents who gathered at the entrances and windows of each of the homes including Cae Bryn, Highfield, Penybryn, Bryn Bella and Bodlondeb..
Central to the Christmas lights display is a fir tree which stands impressively outside Highfield care home and was festooned with strings of fairy lights.
Residents gathered at the main entrance porch and cheered loudly as the lights show was switched on against a brilliant red sky just after sunset.
Then a jubilant Santa greeted them at the doorway as in the background festive music blasted out from his traditional wooden sleigh which the maintenance team had designed and made with help from our residents in art classes.
Highfield resident Bill Hughes, who is spending his first Christmas with Pendine Park, said: “It is magnificent. Everyone has worked so hard to make this happen. All our care staff are exceptional and they deserve a fantastic Christmas.”