First look inside charitable South Shields youngster’s Christmas grotto

A charitable schoolboy has created a Christmas grotto to raise funds for the hospital which helped his great-grandmother.

Dylan Simpson, 12, has created a festive masterpiece this Christmas to raise funds for the Sunderland Royal Hospital’s Renal Unit. which cared for his late great-grandmother Edith Tiffin.

Dylan Simpson outside of his Christmas Grotto. Picture by FRANK REID

Dylan Simpson outside of his Christmas Grotto. Picture by FRANK REID

The Harton Academy youngster has been making a grotto in his bedroom for the last four years - to raise funds for St Clare’s Hospice, in Jarrow, but this year he has moved it to his grandmother Alyson Hepplewhite’s summerhouse at her home on Lynwood Way, South Shields, to make it even bigger.

The grotto will be officially open to the public for one night only on Friday - when the lights will be switched on.

Dylan’s mum Jill Simpson, 34, said she was so proud of her son for his charitable efforts.

She said: “It is absolutely fantastic and it is much better than what his bedroom was.

Dylan Simpson in his Christmas Grotto. Picture by FRANK REID

Dylan Simpson in his Christmas Grotto. Picture by FRANK REID

“He has been working on it since September because he was nominated for a Best of South Tyneside Award for his efforts over the years which really spurred him on.

“This year it is just amazing and he is over the moon with it.”

On Friday there will be the big switch on which is open to family, friends and the public and who will all be asked to contribute a donation and take part in the raffle.
Raffle prizes include a signed Sunderland AFC shirt and a Newcastle football along with numerous vouchers.

Dylan is expecting more than 40 people to turn up and show their support to the cause.

Jill, a support worker, added: “This year Dylan’s great-grandmother passed away, so he decided to raise funds for the Sunderland Royal Renal Unit as she spent many years being treated there.

“Last year he raised around £1,000 for St Clare’s Hospice and this year he is hoping to raise a few £100 as every little helps.”

The Christmas grotto will feature lights inside and outside the summerhouse - including ornaments and false snow.

Guests will also be able to enjoy refreshments and children will be entertained by festive DVDs.

Jill added: “Dylan’s dad Ritchie works off-shore, so he will be away for Christmas, but he saw it before he has left and he is really proud of him.”

To see the grotto, visit 24 Lynwood Way, South Shields, from 5pm on Friday.