By Kim Reader
A grandad has spent the last 20 years decorating his home with more than 300 Santa statues – to give his family the Christmas he never had growing up.
Paul Kidd, 61, spent his childhood hating the festive season but when he got the keys to his home on Christmas Eve two decades ago, the first thing he decided to do was put up fairy lights for his kids.
Every year since then, the holidays have got merrier and brighter for the Kidd family as dad-of-seven Paul constantly adds to his assortment of Christmas decorations.
Paul collects any unwanted baubles, wreaths and ornaments he spots in neighbourhood skips and bins and also gets donations from people and shops in the community.
The halls of the family’s festive paradise are now decked with more than 300 Santa statues, at least 100 snowmen and every Christmas card his kids and six grandchildren have ever made.
To transform the house into his very own Santa’s Grotto – bursting with baubles and tinsel – Paul dedicates five hours a day for four weeks to lining his walls and ceilings with festive cheer.
Single dad Paul, of Framwellgate Moor, Durham, said: “When I was young I hated Christmas so when I had my own babies I was determined to make Christmas special for them.
“The first thing I did when we moved in here was put up Christmas lights – before we had any furniture or anything. The kids loved it.
“Since then I have just wanted to keep the magic of Christmas alive and I keep buying and collecting more and more decorations. I can’t go past a thrown out decoration without picking it up.
“I love that every decoration in the house has its own history, I know the story behind each and every one.
“Every year our house looks like Christmas bomb has gone off, there’s Christmas everywhere. I love it and so do the kids and grandkids.
“If you bang your foot on the ground it’s like the house is singing at you because the decorations all jingle away.
“It is such a special feeling seeing their faces light up when they see all the decorations. We even get visitors from all around the neighbourhood. Everyone coming together, that’s what Christmas is about.
“I never loved Christmas when I was young and I never believed in Santa Claus but now I love believing in him and this time of year means absolutely everything to me.
“Every year I wish January doesn’t come so I never have to take the decorations down.”
Paul lives with his youngest son Anthony Kidd, 10, his 24-year-old daughter Katie McBain, her husband George McBain, 31, and their daughter Storm McBain, four.
The family all help the grandad turn their home into a festive extravaganza each year and often end up adding bits and pieces right up until Christmas Eve.
It’s not just the inside of the family home that gets hit by a ‘Christmas bomb’ but the garden too as the Paul puts out a full nativity scene and has 14 LED lights project festive patterns onto the property.
Some of the decorations hung around the home are passed down from family and are more than 50 years old.
While he thinks he has spent around £5,000 over the years on Christmas decorations, Paul said this would be much higher had he not been able to rely on the kindness of friends, family and neighbours.
Christmas was always a magical time of year for Katie growing up and the mum-of-one couldn’t be prouder of her dad making sure his children had what he never did.
And Paul hasn’t just created festive memories for his family to cherish but the entire neighbourhood, according to Katie who says they get at least a hundred visitors a week.
Katie said: “Our first Christmas in this house really sticks in my mind as a happy one – and every year since has just got more magical.
“My dad can’t walk past a Christmas decoration that has been put in a skip or out by the bins, he has to rescue it.
“Everyone knows about our Christmas collection and they bring round the decorations they don’t want anymore. Even a community shop brings us things.
“We have got stuff everywhere in the house. There’s more than 300 Santas, at least 100 snowmen and we’ve got a whole ceiling covered in baubles.
“We don’t like to throw anything away so my dad has every Christmas card he got from us when we were kids and now we keep all the ones from our kids. Every year we get them all out.
“Dad calls the house his very own Santa’s grotto and he’s convinced that the ghost of Christmas past protects all the decorations because every year when we get them out of the attic they look as good as new.
“I think it’s amazing that even though my dad hated Christmas when he was little, he has done everything to make sure that we had what he never did. It is so special.
“We get about 100 visitors a week and on Christmas day all the family get together and everyone loves the decorations. He has brought Christmas cheer to so many people over the years.”