‘That’s what Christmas is all about’: Highgate home’s festive lights bring community together

From left: Emilia Longmuir, 11, with Alfie the dog; Bianca Simms; Lotta Beiny, 11;  Aiden Beatty, 8; George Longmuir, 8;

From left: Emilia Longmuir, 11, with Alfie the dog; Bianca Simms; Lotta Beiny, 11; Aiden Beatty, 8; George Longmuir, 8; Mackenzie Crombie, 11; Gibson Crombie, 16, and his mother Alison Turner. - Credit: Polly Hancock

A dazzling display of Christmas lights outside a Highgate home is once again brightening up community spirits – but this year inspired by two local children with rare genetic conditions.

Santas, reindeers and festive figurines are illuminating a house in Hillway for the tenth year running, and this time around neighbours have clubbed together to fundraise for charity – inspired by Gibson, 16, and Lotta, 11. 

Gibson has Phelan-McDermid syndrome which affects his communication, cognitive development and mobility.

Lotta, who lives in Highgate and goes to Richard Cloudesley School in Islington, has Rett syndrome which has left her unable to walk or talk.

Lotta outside the Highgate Christmas lights. 

Lotta outside the Highgate Christmas lights. - Credit: Polly Hancock

Lotta’s mother, Bianca Simms, told the Ham&High the Christmas lights were “loved” by her daughter and Gibson – and that they helped connect them to the local community.


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She said: “These lights on this beautiful house are a gift to us all from this wonderfully giving family.

“They are so simple, so fun and they’re something everyone can enjoy. Gibson and Lotta love them, as do we all.”

12 Hillway covered in Christmas lights to encourage donations for PMSF UK and Reverse Rett. Picture: Polly Hancock

12 Hillway covered in Christmas lights to encourage donations for PMSF UK and Reverse Rett. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

The mother-of-three said that “every year it gets a bit bigger and more insane”. 

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“Our whole family always walks past, it’s like a little institution,” she said.

“There’s a lovely atmosphere, everyone hangs out and chats.”  

The festive display is organised by Hillway resident Anthony South. The charities it is fundraising for are Phelan-McDermid Syndrome Foundation UK (PMSF UK), and Reverse Rett.

The festive display at night. 

The festive display at night. - Credit: Polly Hancock

More than the fundraiser itself, Bianca said the Christmas lights’ true value lies in the awareness, relationships and friendships they would foster for Gibson and Lotta.

“They cannot speak in words but what they can do so elegantly, by their very presence, and their story, is to speak deeply to people’s hearts,” Bianca said.  

“Their message is one of love – something so needed in the world right now.  

“They manage, without words, to connect, to draw people in, to make them curious and to wonder about what it must be like to be so isolated and so vulnerable.  

“They recognise hidden parts of themselves and their own vulnerability which is where we can all connect and learn kindness.   

“Their message is to enjoy the simple things in life – that trouble will pass. To endure the bad times and enjoy the good times to their fullest.” 

To donate to the fundraiser click here.

To donate to PMSF UK click here

To donate to Reverse Rett click here.

READ MORE: Christmas Events in Highgate

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