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Grandparents Spent $26,800 Transforming Their Garage Into a Mini Christmas Village

TIMEJanuary 11, 2022

A pair of Christmas-obsessed grandparents have spent 20,000 pounds (approx. US$26,800) transforming their garage into a mini Christmas village.

Pauline, 66, and Rob Sollis, 62, have spent the last two decades amassing a collection of over 2,000 individual pieces, including townhouses, a zoo, a cathedral, and even a functioning fairground complete with a Ferris wheel.

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The retired grandparents from Stratton in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, England, proudly display their floor-to-ceiling collection all year round in their garage, and have even made an event of it, called “Vale Road Christmas Lights.”

The couple spruce up their garden with a North Pole area decorated with snow and penguin figures, a nativity display, 3-foot statues of toy soldiers and angels, and even a handmade wooden sleigh complete with a Santa.

“We first began collecting in 2001 when we were visiting a garden center just before Christmas, and Rob saw a whole miniature Christmas house display and fell in love,” Pauline said. “We bought a few of the houses then and there and put them on display on a spare sideboard in the front room.”

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(Courtesy of Caters News)

After Christmas that year, the couple went back and bought some more pieces on sale.

“The bigger LeMax pieces have cost us between £40 [US$54] and £200 [US$268] like the fairground and museum,” Pauline said. “Most of the houses have cost between £25 [US$33] and £60 [US$80].”

According to Pauline, the pieces are fascinating, and as one looks inside the windows, one can see inside the little shops. Additionally, she said one can also see dinosaurs in the miniature National History Museum.

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(Courtesy of Caters News)

“If it was a toy shop, you could see teddy bears in the windows of all shapes and sizes, a clothes shop, and you could see the mannequins inside with dresses on,” she added.

Each Christmas, the couple go out and collect more pieces to add to the collection, making it a yearly tradition.

The couple’s collection was so extensive that it started to take over the living room. Thus in 2013, Pauline spent five months setting up the display in their garage.

“It took me so long to put up that we’ve never put it away, and it permanently stays in the garage now,” Pauline said. “Rob set up all the electrics, and I organized all of the pieces.”

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(Courtesy of Caters News)

The mini Christmas village in the garage comprises townhouses, churches, a park with a river running through it that has dancers and skaters on the frozen parts. Additionally, it also has a huge funfair, an industrial area with factories alongside a river with water mills, a ski slope with a cable car, and a Christmas tree. They even have a few specialty pieces too, like a nativity and a cathedral.

This year, the couple have a new piece, which is a stage that lights up, and plays music, and has quite a few options too. They also got some new funfair rides, as well as gingerbread men and human figurines in the collection.

For the last decade, the impressive model village has drawn in visitors including children, students, and families from all over the country.

Epoch Times Photo
(Courtesy of Caters News)

Since opening the display up to the public, the couple have raised over 15,000 pounds (approx. US$20,100) for charities including Macmillan and Samaritans, by charging a small entrance fee of 1.50 pounds (US$2) for adults and 50 pence (67 cents) for children.

“We opened up the display to put a smile on people’s faces and to get them into the festive mood,” Pauline said. “Year on year, we add another piece and do something a bit different with our garden display so people get to see something new.”

The couple pride themselves on being an accessible place for people to come and enjoy a little bit of festive cheer.

“We even like to do little activities with the children who come to visit, like asking them to count up all the miniature Santas,” Paula said.

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