IT’S beginning to look a lot like Christmas in Whitchurch after an annual charity fundraising tradition kicked off the festive season in style.

A healthy crowd gathered as Keith and Sheila Chase switched on their dazzling array of Christmas lights at their home in Chester Road on Saturday.

It is the 11th year that the couple have raised funds for the Midlands Air Ambulance Charity, with a running total of £46,000 donated in collection boxes so far.

Sheila, who celebrates her 63rd birthday on Christmas Day, told how the couple had put up the festive display for several years before, but decided to help the charity after a friend’s grandson needed the air ambulance after an accident.

“I think it’s a well-deserved cause, particularly being as rural as we are – I think it’s something we need in this area.”

The Chases’ Christmas lights switch-on event seems to have become a popular festive tradition among Whitchurch residents.

There are thousands of festive decorations on display at their house and in the front garden, with Keith and Sheila adding new ones every year where possible.

The lights take more than a month to put up and the couple are helped by son Trevor and son-in-law Andrew Williams – as well as other friends and family.

Saturday’s switch-on included a visit from the air ambulance helicopter, as well as Father Christmas, who handed out some presents to the children as he does every year at the event.

On the crowd’s reaction to the switch-on, Sheila said: “’Wow, that was what we heard, so I’m assuming they enjoyed it!”

Sheila said that the support from “marvellous” family and friends, as well as from members of the public who have attended over the years had been “amazing” for what had started out as a hobby.

“It’s got a lot bigger than what it was when it started, so it’s great to have people support what we do,” she said.