The countdown to Christmas has begun at Salford Quays as Francis House opens the bidding on its fundraising Festival of Trees.
This year 40 decorated trees and gifts have been donated by individuals, groups and businesses in the region.
People can place bids on the trees either in store or online, with the highest bidder getting to take home the fully decorated tree and presents to go under it.
Each tree has a minimum bid of £70 and whoever has the highest bid by closing time on Sunday 3 December, gets to take the tree home.
The event is sure to spark another local derby as United and City fans demonstrate their loyalty by bidding on trees donated by the clubs. The Manchester United Foundation tree comes with a team signed shirt and ‘Remembering the Old Boys’ framed picture; while the Manchester City tree comes with a signed Phil Foden shirt in official presentation box, 2 tickets to Manchester City vs Manchester United on 3rd March 2024 and other City goodies.
As well as the trees from the city’s two Premiership clubs, there are other trees offering framed signed football shirts including a framed Luke Shaw signed Manchester United football shirt in memory of Toby and a Paul Scholes signed and framed England football shirt, which comes with a wide range of gifts under Ben’s showstopper tree. For fans of this year’s biggest film, there are not one but two Barbie themed trees. Other gifts on offer include luxury beauty products from Jo Malone and Apothecary; food and drink hampers; toys; jewellery; gift vouchers and handmade crafts and decorations.
Julie Williams, fundraising officer at Francis House said: “Anyone visiting the display is in for a real treat. With the help of our tree sponsors there is something to tempt everyone to place a bid and be in with the chance of taking a truly unique tree home for Christmas.
“We provide the tree and lights, and the rest is left up to the imagination of our fantastic sponsors. Cardinal Global Logistics have created a bright and beautiful Barbie tree and the Thomason family have put together two trees bursting with football, gaming and food and drink goodies.”
As well as the fundraising trees, the pop-up store is selling a range of Christmas decorations, cards, and gifts. Visitors can also buy a secret Santa lucky dip wrapped gift and buy raffle tickets for prizes on display to help raise money for the charity.
Based in Didsbury, Francis House provides respite care, homecare, end of life care and a range of other services to the families of children and young people with life-limiting and life-threatening conditions. All money raised will be used to help Francis House continyue to support approximately 2000 people at any one time across Greater Manchester.
Volunteers, Mary and Alan Gillatt, who ran the pop-up store every Christmas for 14 years, raising almost £300,000 for the charity, have now retired from the everyday running of the event, but are still working occasional days at the shop.
With the donated trees and their presents being worth hundreds of pounds each, it’s hoped the event this year will exceed the £25,000 in profit raised in 2022.
Francis House Festival of Trees is open for bids from October 28 until December 3 and the shop, on the first floor of Quayside MediaCityUK, will remain open for cards and gifts until December 10. Bids can be placed on each tree for five weeks in the run up to Christmas, either in store or online at www.festivaloftrees.co.uk Store opening hours are Tuesday to Saturday 10am until 5pm and Sunday 11am until 5pm.
For more information about the history of the event read our interview with fundraisers Mary and Alan Gillett.