ENERGY price rises have forced reduced hours for an annual charity fund-raising Christmas lights display on a Minehead housing estate.

Self-employed gardener Michael Grace has been putting on the show in Plover Close for the past three years, and for five years previously at his former home in Brackensfield, Alcombe.

But this year the length of time the display is lit has had to be reduced because of the higher costs of electricity.

So far, Mr Grace has raised nearly £8,000 to support the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance and is hoping that this year’s display will take the sum past the £10,000 mark.

The lights, which will continue until January 2, will be lit Sunday to Thursday from 5pm to 7pm and on Fridays and Saturdays until 8pm.

During Christmas week the lights will be on for an extra hour each night.

Mr Grace said the spectacle helped to bring out the community spirit on the estate and attracted large numbers of visitors to view them.

He said: “It is for the local community and it is magical for all the children and we get good feedback from it as well. It is hard work because I do all the lights and my neighbours let me put them on their houses.

“It takes from the first week in October right through to the first week of December to do it, so every Saturday and Sunday during that time I am up and down ladders putting up the Christmas lights.”

Father Christmas attended the official Plover Close switch-on last week and he will be returning on a number of occasions up to December 25.

Mr Grace said: “We have a big snow machine as well so when we see people outside we push a button and the snow falls.”

The lights are also a big hit with Mr Grace’s wife Beverley, and their four children Tyler, aged 10, Leah, aged seven, five-year-old Isobella, and Brooklyn, 18 months (pictured).

PHOTO: George Ody