Christmas is meant to be the season of peace and goodwill and a neighbourhood in London is a sparkling example of just how easily that can be achieved.
All too often people assume urban areas equate to anonymous and unfriendly, but the residents of Corbyn Street in Islington, North London, have given lie to the myth and in the process, made them the envy of nearby homes.
For years David Charie had wanted to have twinkling lights lining the long road outside his home. But with 150 terraced homes and a diverse mix of residents, was it something that could really be achieved?
Yes they’d had summer street parties and throughout lockdown had kept in touch via an ever-growing WhatsApp link, but timing street lights to go on the same time every day for weeks was going to take considerable co-ordination.
But builder Hora den Dulk, 63, was determined to help try and fulfil his neighbour David’s long-held dream.
A bit of research and he found that company Festive Lights had just what he needed: 10 metres of lights for £25. But with 350 metres needed for each side of the street, he couldn’t do it alone.
‘I put the word out on WhatsApp about what we wanted to do and asked people if they’d be willing to join in. The response was overwhelming. Within a couple of days we were set to bring a glow to the neighbourhood’, says Hora who moved to Corbyn Street in 2007.
‘To enable us to get all the way down both sides of the street meant running electricity out of the top bedroom windows of properties along the route but everyone was so enthusiastic and it has given everyone a real boost after what has been a tough year,’ he adds.
Every day at 4.30 pm the lights go on and stay until 11 pm and it has become a mini tourist attraction in the area.
‘I met one lady who admitted she’d had a really tough year and regularly comes for a walk down our street just to cheer herself up. While one former Corbyn Street resident now living in France had been sent pictures of our lights by a friend who’d visited the street despite living several miles away.
‘It has really brought the community together not just because it looks pretty and is a talking point but because we’ve realised what we can achieve together, and so quickly I think it took us all by surprise.
‘There is a sense that with lockdown, people are in their houses looking for projects to get involved in and maybe this one just came about at the right time’.
Certainly, the twinkling street has become THE place to take an evening stroll for those wanting a dose of festive cheer.
‘It would be fantastic if surrounding streets decided to get involved. We’ve definitely set the precedent for the area,’ laughs Hora.