Two Ludgershall residents are planning to bring charity and Christmas together with plans for a free grotto in the town.

Daniella Armstrong and Abe Allen are planning to host a miniature “Winter Wonderland” on December 19 and 20, which they say will feature a Santa, elves, owls and a grinch to bring some festive cheer to the town. They also hope to be serving hot chocolate, taking pictures and running a raffle for visitors.

The pair, who are the admins in the support group ‘Helping Friends and Fur Babies’, say that “people need to smile” at the moment and hope their event will achieve just that.

“When we can sit back at the end of the night, the smiles on their faces will be worth it,” said Daniella.

Abe agreed, adding: “Being able to see Santa, with Covid still around, is what people need.”

Plans are already underway, with Abe saying that “£1000 of Daniella’s money” has been invested in the event, though the community has also been helping out. All donations from the event will be going towards its running costs, with the excess going towards the support group.

Abe and Daniella told the Advertiser that donations totalling hundreds of pounds have already been received from a range of individuals and businesses, including Rosebourne Garden Centre, Jo Camille, Groundcraft Ltd and Reddy Rajesh.

There’s also been many offers of support, with a team of soldiers set to help put up lights at the weekend, while a marquee will be put up closer to the time.

While the reaction from residents has been broadly positive, Abe and Daniella acknowledged that concerns have been raised about the safety of the event.

“We’ve had a few people raise concerns,” said Abe, “but we hope we can put people’s minds at rest by doing everything we can for the community.”

They intend to ensure that the event is Covid-safe, with all attendees and those running the event wearing face coverings, while slots must be pre-booked in advance. Social distancing will be enforced, with 2m gaps laid out with tape on the floor. Abe said that they will prepare for more stringent restrictions “just in case.”

Anyone interested in learning more about the event, and booking tickets, should head to ‘Helping Friends and Fur Babies’ for more information: