A Tree-mendous Festival

Shop closures and a lockdown didn’t dampen spirits for the Festival of Trees.

Julie Williams stood infront of Christmas trees

In October, Francis House fundraising officer, Julie Williams, and charity shop manager, Jason Connor, set to work transforming an empty unit at Quayside MediaCityUK into a pop-up winter wonderland of stunning Christmas trees.

We caught up with Julie in the New Year to find out she got on.

Do we or don’t we…

“… that was the question! 2020 has been a year like no other and it was touch and go as to whether the event would even go ahead.

“The Festival of Trees is an annual display of beautifully decorated Christmas trees that are auctioned to raise funds for Francis House.  The shop also sells a full range of Christmas decorations, gifts and festive items.

“Once again Quayside MediaCityUK (formerly the Lowry Outlet) generously donated the use of a unit in the centre. Working with them we followed government guidelines to ensure that the shop would be safe for customers and visitors.

“All of our trees sponsors decorated their Christmas trees with unique gifts and vouchers; merchandise and stock had been purchased and with all arrangements in place we excitedly opened to the public on Tuesday 3rd November.”

The shops close

“We then received the news that no-one wanted. Only two days after opening the shop had to close as we faced a month long, local lockdown.

“We were however prepared – the Christmas Tree auction was moved on-line for the first time in the project’s history – and although the shop was closed, people could still view all 32 trees at a newly developed website festivaloftrees.co.uk and place a bid.

“More than 110 people registered to bid online and with a starting bid of £50 on each tree the auction quickly got underway.


Festival of Trees shop

The shop at Quayside MediaCityUK re-opened to the public after lockdown.

Welcome back

“On 3rd December the local lockdown came to an end. It was a great feeling to return to the shop and greet the many people who came to view the trees, place a bid, purchase items, take part in our raffle or just come for a chat about Francis House.

“I met so many wonderful people who told me that they come to support the event each year and how happy the shop makes them feel.

“Bidding concluded ten days later and the tree with the highest bid was sponsored by Towers Business Park based in Didsbury which alone raised £600.

“The ever-popular Manchester United and Manchester City trees raised £650 between them and each of the 32 trees were fondly taken home by their new owners in time for Christmas.

Festival of Trees

29 winning bids were placed online and 3 in the shop.

A successful outcome

“As a result of the auction, the sale of Christmas items, a raffle and in spite of operating in such difficult times, I am delighted to announce that the 14th annual Festival of Christmas Trees raised a fantastic £16,000.

“Thank you to the many people who helped make it happen despite the odds. Watch this space for plans for the Festival of Trees 2021!”

If you would like to get involved and sponsor a tree, please contact Julie on 0161 443 2200 or email Julie.williams@francishouse.org.uk

Thank you to our sponsors:

Tesco, Co-op Heaton Moor, Clair and Mark, Manchester United FC, Manchester City FC, Lowbury Construction Ltd, L’Oreal, Swizzels Matlow Ltd, Mr & Mrs D Woodrow, Quayside MediaCity UK, Newell Brands, Manchester Bee-spoke Precision, Fibre Hair Salon, Virgin Media, Mottram Hall, Intechnica, The Floorbrite Group, The Cash Family, Towers Business Park, Weightmans, Knit2tog Wool Shop, Morrisons, 2 Little Ducks, Mr Peter Brown, Nando’s, The Cadbury Shop, Toytown.

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