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Byron Road Christmas lights fund brings late festive cheer for charity

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From left are Byron Road residents Pam and Mike Young, Jason Dean, Ged Hollyoake and Tony Baker
From left are Byron Road residents Pam and Mike Young, Jason Dean, Ged Hollyoake and Tony Baker

A NATIONALLY renowned Christmas lighting display in Barton helped raise more than £6,000 for a charity that supports people with blood cancer.

Inspired by the story of former resident Ross Baker, neighbours from Byron Road decided to raise money for the Anthony Nolan Trust which was instrumental in securing his life-saving stem cell transplant.

The dazzling illuminations, which have been organised by Ged Hollyoake for the last 14 years, were hailed as Britain’s best decorations in a contest run in the Daily Mail in 2017.

Each year Ged and his neighbours spend months creating the incredible scene which extends along a terrace of houses and also includes an number of homes on the opposite side of the road.

The Byron Road lights display in 2015
The Byron Road lights display in 2015

Ged told the A&T: “I don’t even want to think about how much I have spent on all the Christmas lights and decorations over the years but it’s definitely worth it to see the happiness it brings to people and the amazing amounts of money the display helps to raise for charity.”

This year the illuminations raised £6,002 for the Anthony Nolan Trust, made up from visitor donations and money collected during a launch event in early December when Shaine Singer, the star of the Channel 4 show The Undateables, was invited to undertake the official switch-on.

Ged said: “This year we had a bit of a slow start because the weather was appalling but we had a steady stream of visitors throughout December. We were delighted to be able to raise so much for the Anthony Nolan Trust. “

The grand total was also boosted by the extra fundraising efforts of Ethan (8) and Evie (7) McCue, who sold candy canes outside their house in Byron Road to collect a further £34.

Ged and his neighbours decided to support the Anthony Nolan Trust after former resident Ross Baker (30) who grew up in Byron Road, received a lifesaving transplant via the charity.

His father Tony, who now lives in Walkford, explained: “In November 2016 after complaining of aching joints Ross had random blood tests and was immediately called back to St James Hospital in Leeds to be told he had lymphoblastic leukaemia.

“He went straight into chemotherapy treatment to try and drive the leukaemia out of his system.”

But despite four months of intensive treatment, Ross was told the cancer had not been eradicated and was referred to the Anthony Nolan Trust which holds a comprehensive register of potential stem cell potential donors.

Tony said: “The trust found Ross a 100% match and willing donor in Germany and in July 2017 the stem cell replacement took place after a full body radiation to kill off his existing stem cell.”

Three months later Ross was given the amazing news that he was in remission.

“As a family we will be eternally grateful to the amazing NHS and the Anthony Nolan trust,” added Tony.

Ged said: “I would just like to thank Berry’s Bakery for providing the mince pies for our launch, Richard and Sue Keffin, Jason Dean, and Rob and Emma Hardy.”

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