Search

Brains behind Upminster skeleton display discusses how fundraiser came together

PUBLISHED: 12:30 01 November 2020 | UPDATED: 08:45 02 November 2020

Michelle says the laundry display is her favourite because, as a mother of two, she can relate to spending a lot of time washing clothes. Picture: Michelle DeVido

Michelle says the laundry display is her favourite because, as a mother of two, she can relate to spending a lot of time washing clothes. Picture: Michelle DeVido

Archant

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.

The working from home display reflects a common situation many people are facing in the coronavirus era. Picture: Michelle DeVidoThe working from home display reflects a common situation many people are facing in the coronavirus era. Picture: Michelle DeVido

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 first display, two weeks before Halloween, paid homage to Strictly Come Dancing. Picture: Michelle DeVidoThe first display, two weeks before Halloween, paid homage to Strictly Come Dancing. Picture: Michelle DeVido

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.

The displays are changed every night at 10pm, when the skeletons are unscrewed from the ground and brought inside to be redressed for the following day. Picture: Michelle DeVidoThe displays are changed every night at 10pm, when the skeletons are unscrewed from the ground and brought inside to be redressed for the following day. Picture: Michelle DeVido

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”.

The fundraiser for Saint Francis Hospice has already raised £6,894, well over Michelle initital £5,000 target. Picture: Michelle DeVidoThe fundraiser for Saint Francis Hospice has already raised £6,894, well over Michelle initital £5,000 target. Picture: Michelle DeVido

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.”

To donate, visit this link.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Romford Recorder. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Romford Recorder