Hello and welcome to Chelmsford in Essex, UK.
Ravenskull Manor - Forever, is an original story with influences from Edgar Allen Poe's poem "The Raven" and also inspired by SteamPunk and other stories from the era. The story is basically the same as 2021 but the display will be larger and improved (we have a new story for 2023 though - yes we are planning it already). It is presented in a series of walkthrough set pieces.
We started with a small display around the front door and in the front window in 2018, this grew to more out the front of the house in 2019. A larger display went down the side of the house for 2020 to allow for more room as Covid restrictions required. In 2021 we went for the largest display we have ever done, taking up the whole of the garden, this time with a collection for Charity.
In December 2018 my Mum had a major heart attack and my Dad collapsed Christmas Day. Neither fully engaged with the medical advice given at that time. However, as January started my father had no choice but to be admitted to hospital where he was diagnosed with aggressive cancer of the bladder that had already spread to his lungs and elsewhere. At the end of March they sent him home under the care of Farleigh Hospice. The Hospice staff arranged everything, a bed for him, visits from nurses and liaised with the Hospital. He died in the early hours of Sunday 24 March 2019 here at home where he wanted to be. He was 94.
Mum had still not really recovered from her heart attack but wouldn’t engage with the health services fully. Over time she found walking harder and harder. By September 2020 she could hardly walk and was in a great deal of pain and eventually accepted she needed to go to A&E. Within a few weeks it was confirmed that she had aggressive lung cancer that had spread to other organs. Again Farleigh Hospice stepped up and arranged whatever was needed. Within a month Mum could no longer handle the stairs. Farleigh arranged for a proper medical bed downstairs and even for an ambulance crew to come and help her down as she was unable to manage the stairs.
They arrange for Marie Curie nurses to come overnight so we could get some sleep as she no longer slept and kept calling out all night. As Christmas 2020 approached we managed to get her out in a wheelchair to see a filmed panto in the Everyman Cinema here in Chelmsford. We even got out to the local pantomime before lockdown cancelled it and finally she was able to go see the Christmas lights around Hylands House - Enlightened - on 12 December 2020. The next day she took a turn for the worse and never left the bed again. Within a week she was on a syringe driver. Around 9:30pm Christmas Day I checked on her and couldn’t see any more signs of life. She had passed away.
Both times Farleigh Hospice were incredible and supported not only my parents but both of us as well. I have a huge debt of gratitude I owe them that can never be repaid. However, over the last few years Covid has robbed them of the income from sponsored events and usual fundraisers.
I am never going to be a sportsman but I can do daft things like this halloween display and going by 2021 - many of you like it too - 600 visitors and over £915 raised - thank you all very much
I also have a grateful debt to everyone who helped me, the army of volunteers who had no idea what they were walking into, the various companies who put up with me asking daft questions and giving so much help and all my neighbours who put up with the madness.
Can't wait to do it all again this year :D
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