Dad’s thoughtful festive gift lights up daughter’s Christmas

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A Campbeltown dad has lit up his daughter’s Christmas by creating an extra special festive gift for her.

Sandy McKinven surprised his 15-year-old daughter Isla with a replica of the Campbeltown Christmas light she designed, after the original hung from a town lamppost for just a few weeks.

Isla was delighted in 2015 when, aged nine, she won a competition run by the Campbeltown Christmas Lights Group to design a new festive light for the town.

Isla in 2015 with her competition-winning design.
Isla in 2015 with her competition-winning design.

She was joined by another competition winner to switch on the town’s lights that year and was ‘absolutely delighted and so proud’ to see illuminated a version of her winning drawing of a red and green wrapped gift box.

However, that same year, because of the way the light had been made, wind couldn’t pass through it, so the first breezy night after it was erected, it was badly damaged and taken down as it was deemed unsafe.

The same thing happened the following year and, in 2017, the light fell from the lamppost and was taken away to be fixed but was never seen again.

Every year, Isla would look for her light but it never reappeared and, when the family enquired about it, they were told it was missing.

Sandy, a lorry driver for McFadyens Transport, said: ‘These things happen but it never ever made it to Christmas Day and, every year, although she never really said, I could see it upset Isla when the town Christmas lights went on without hers.

‘You get lots of time to think in my job and I decided I couldn’t watch that again and wanted to make her one of her very own, so a plan was made, parts were gathered and a few hours’ work later, here we are!’

Sandy made Isla’s very own replica light using steel rod, which was bent, shaped and welded together to make the parcel shape of the original design and then painted.

It is illuminated by two strings of outdoor lights, woven in and out of the frame, to replicate the original.

It now stands proudly in the family’s Davaar Avenue front garden.

‘I’m really happy to have my own light now as it was disappointing every year seeing the lights up without mine,’ said Isla. ‘It was a big surprise as it was in the garden and got switched on just as I walked in the gate when I came home from a friend’s house!’

As well as having a lifelong obsession with anything mechanical, Sandy was a panel beater/paint sprayer for 15 years so he is used to working with metal and fabrication.

‘He can pretty much turn his hand to anything at all and he is very creative,’ said his wife, Lorna, an additional support needs assistant at Campbeltown Grammar School. ‘He is very handy to have around… especially at Christmas!’

Isla and Sandy are not the only creative people in the family – through her party decoration business Shindig, Lorna, a trained florist, creates personalised balloon art, and Isla’s big sister Emma, 18, a junior hair stylist, handmakes and sells chunky wool blankets.