Brains behind Upminster skeleton display discusses how fundraiser came together
PUBLISHED: 12:30 01 November 2020 | UPDATED: 08:45 02 November 2020
The past two weeks have been wonderfully chaotic for Upminster’s Michelle De Vido, whose skeleton displays have caught the eye of many in the borough.
Michelle has created 14 different skeleton scenes across 14 days to raise money for Saint Francis Hospice.
She explains what drove her to take on such a mammoth task: “The hospice is very special to me as they have cared for my cousin Carly Davies and my friend Michael Ney. All the staff, from doctors and nurses to the volunteers, go above and beyond to look after your loved one and their family.”
The other motivation is a desire to put smiles on faces. “Everyone is a bit down in the dumps at the minute, so if this gives someone a bit of happiness then that’s great.”
The mum of two has certainly made a difference with her creations, which have ranged from Wimbledon to Harry Potter, and everything in between.
Her personal favourite is the laundry scene; why? — “Because I feel like I do laundry 24/7!”
Such are the displays’ popularity that Michelle has revised the initial £5,000 goal; the fundraiser has already raised an incredible £15,873.
With more than 100 people typically visiting Michelle’s home between 3 and 9pm every day to see the displays, this is hardly surprising.
Her next door neighbours also got in on the act, watching people come and go with interest while self-isolating due to a Covid scare.
With a smile, Michelle recalls the couple thanking her for providing them with “endless entertainment”.
She’s clear, however, that this is no one-woman show: “My husband has been helping me too — he doesn’t really have a choice! We changed the skeletons at 10 every night. We had to turn the lights off, bring them inside, dismantle them, take the costumes off, re-dress them, and then bring them back out to be drilled back into the yard. It was hard work.”
A modest Michelle says she had “no idea” the skeletons were going to be so popular, but is glad it has brought joy. “The children are really gutted that they can’t do Halloween this year — it’s a really big thing around here, so it’s nice to give them an alternative.”
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