A COMMUNITY will light up as one this weekend with a village-wide switch-on of Christmas lights.

Coronavirus will have a hard time dampening Mynydd Isa’s festive spirit as the village light displays will all be brought to life at once.

Festive lights at Mynydd Isa Village Centre, New Brighton Community Centre and Shangri La (on Chambers Lane) will be switched on in unison this year after plans were agreed with the community council.

Speaking to the Leader, Argoed community councillor Rebecca Blanchard said this year will feel different – but no less Christmas-y for residents.

She said: “Hopefully by having different points where people can see the lights spread out across the village it will stop that chance of people crowding. People have been reminded to keep their safe distance at all times.”

Cllr Blanchard’s parents, Margaret and Derek Hodson, are responsible for the display at Shangri La – which has been a local festive attraction since the 1990s.

Margaret said: “All of this is just incredible, its as if our little set of lights from 30 years ago have taken on a life of their own and just grown and grown.

“We first started putting our lights up just because we liked them, but we then wanted to turn it into something good for charity in the last couple of years. We first supported Mind and then decided the following year we’d support the Alzheimer’s Society.

“The Alzheimer’s Society is close to a lot of people’s hearts here in the village - as well as our own as our brother-in-law has Alzheimer’s.”

The donations have slowly grown year-on-year as the couple decorate their garden for the festive season – estimating that they have raised around £5,000 over the years.

People wanting to enjoy the lights have a route they can follow around the village – either on foot or by car which includes the three main attractions but also some other residents wanting to add to the cheer of the evening.

Margaret says that seeing all the happy faces when the lights go on “makes her Christmas” and she hopes it will be “a huge lift” for everybody in the village after such a rough year.

Derek gets to work almost straight after Halloween to get the lights tested and in position for the big switch on.

He told the Leader: “It probably takes about four to six weeks to get it all tested and set up. I check all the lights and either repair or replace the ones that no longer work.

“I’ve been up ladders making floating stars and Santa decorations, as well as checking that everything is in the right place. We add something new to the display every year and this time around we’ve ourselves a unicorn to fit in!

“It takes a fair time but it’s all worthwhile in the end.”

Another key part of their display is the couple’s memory hedge. A place in the village where people can remember a loved one that with their name displayed on a bauble

Margaret said: “It doesn’t have to be that they’ve been lost to Alzheimer’s – whatever the reason it’s a place where people can remember someone they wish were here this Christmas

“People can donate whatever they wish when we make the baubles. I think right now we’ve got about 24 on the hedge.”

Donations from the baubles will be given to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Father Christmas will also be paying a visit to Shangri La after he had a postbox stationed outside the property.

He will come to see children who drive by from a safe social distance and his elves will pass them a goody bag (that has been quarantined for two weeks) using a grabbing stick.

Argoed Community Council were very keen to support Mr & Mrs Hodson - and Santa – so provided £200 to help get the gift bags together.

People will not be able to see him if visiting on foot, it was said, for safety reasons.

The lights will be switched on across the village on December 6, Sunday, at 6pm.