It’s the battle of the Premiership trees as Manchester United and Manchester City go head to head for a good cause this Christmas.
Both teams have donated Christmas trees to be auctioned off for Francis House Children’s Hospice and the battles is on with bids open until 13 December.
The trees, which come with framed signed football shirts, team baubles and merchandise are a unique gift for footy fans.
Usually fans could view the trees on display at Quayside MediaCityUK’s (formerly Lowry Outlet) Festival of Trees. But this year sadly the shop was only open two days before lockdown saw it’s doors shut until at least 2 December.
Volunteers, Mary and Alan Gillatt, have been running the pop-up store every Christmas for 14 years raising almost £300,000 for the charity.
Browsing the delights on the individually decorated trees has become a much-loved tradition for families visiting the shopping centre.
People place bids on the trees and the highest bidder gets to take home the fully decorated tree and presents to go under it. Traditionally shoppers browsed the stunning display and placed bids on their favourite tree in store. However, this year the bidding has gone online.
Each tree has a minimum bid of £50 and whoever has the highest bid by closing time on Sunday 13 December, gets to take the tree home.
As well as the trees from the city’s two Premiership clubs, there is a treat for cricket fans with The Hilton Garden Inn Lancashire Cricket Club tree offering an overnight stay in a pitch view room and club merchandise. For the beauty lover L’Oreal and Fibre Hair Salon have trees with a whole host of goodies; luxury hoteliers Mottram Hall’s tree comes with afternoon tea for two, Sunday lunch for two, Spa Day for two, Four-ball golf and a beauty hamper. While Towers Business Park has donated two trees including hundreds of pounds in Selfridges, Harrods and M&S vouchers.
In all, there are 32 amazing trees to bid on and the charity, which has had to cancel many other fundraising events due to the coronavirus pandemic, hopes this popular project will still be able to raise much-needed funds.
Julie Williams, Francis House fundraiser said: “We are so grateful to all our tree sponsors for coming to our aid in such difficult times and supporting the Festival Trees. The display looks magical and the variety of trees this year means that there is something for everyone.”
“We of course couldn’t do it without the support from Quayside MediaCityUK who once again have generously donated a retail unit to the hospice to become home to the display in the run up to Christmas. We hope lots of people will continue to place bids whilst the shop is closed and look forward to welcoming them back if it is safe to do so in December.”
The Didsbury based hospice is facing a shortfall in income from cancelled fundraising events as a result of the coronavirus crisis. All money raised will be used to support the work of Francis House and help towards providing care and support to the families of children, teenagers and young adults with life-limiting or life-threatening conditions from across Greater Manchester.
Bids can be placed online by visiting www.festivaloftrees.co.uk
Read our interview with Mary and Alan Gillatt for more details about the history of the Festival.
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