RESIDENTS on the Castle Mead estate in Trowbridge have presented a £1,500 cheque to their local branch of the Royal British Legion for the Poppy Appeal.

They raised £500 from a spectacular Christmas display using a phenomenal 17,000 festive lights and characters.

A further £1,000 was awarded by Persimmon Homes after Stewart Benford, from Castle Mead Residents Group, applied for cash from the housing developer’s charity division and was named Community Champion for January.

Captain Roy Zaman, chairman of Trowbridge RBL, was handed the cheque by Mike Rees, the independent candidate for the Swindon & Wiltshire Police and Crime Commissioner.

Also pictured are Jill Sherman, her husband Bill Sherman and Stewart Benford, who helped put on the display.

Mr Benford said: “We thought it would be amazing if we raised £100 from residents but we actually raised £500 from donations.”

“Cheekily, I wrote to Persimmon Homes at New Year telling our story to see if they could contribute and I was advised to apply via their Community Champion charities division.

“I was overwhelmed by the request of £1,000 being met in full, meaning we now have £1,500 for the Royal British Legion.”

The residents who took part were Mr Benford and his wife Sarah, Kelly and David Horton, Matthew and Hayley High, Stuart Chapman and Bill and Jill Sherman.

Mr Benford added: “Bill and Jill are ex-army and normally collect for the Poppy Appeal but they were unable to do it last year because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We chose this charity with so many military people living in Castle Mead and with the absence of most poppy collections.”

Mr Zaman says the funds will go towards the RBL’s national Poppy Appeal, which last year raised £20,000 in Trowbridge.

He added: “I’d like to thank the residents of Thirsk Drive. They have raised a fantastic sum of money over the Christmas period for the RBL.

“Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, RBL fundraising through the Poppy Appeal in November and December was much reduced so this donation is gratefully received.

“It just goes to show the strength of support that the Legion has in Wiltshire, but particularly in Trowbridge.”

Mr Benford says they hope to raise funds for the Wiltshire Air Ambulance from their Christmas lights display later this year.

“We have built up the collection of lights over the years and put them up every year.

“It is such a pleasure to see so many families each evening enjoying our Christmas lights display.

“It’s nice to stand and watch the people who come by each evening. We do it for our own benefit but it gives so much pleasure to the people who stop to look.”