Brenda and George Howe, who live at Newlands, in Longhill Road, Chavey Down, have covered their garden with illuminated Christmas figurines for the festive period.

After switching on the lights on Sunday, Mrs Howe said they have already had a great response in terms of donations and visitors.

She also added that she is stunned that people come from great distances to view the illuminations, which include swans, reindeer, penguins and wild cats.

“We do not usually build up this many donations until much closer to Christmas. I think the word is getting out that our lights are on,” said Mrs Howe.

“We encourage people to come down a take a look at them. The more people the merrier really.” The couple first started decorating their garden for the Christmas season about 15 years ago, and began collecting for local charities about 10 years ago.

On average the pair collect about £4,000 each year, and this year are raising funds for the Multiple Sclerosis Society after donating to charities including Sebastian’s Action Trust and Thames Hospice in the past.

“The MS Society is very dear to our hearts because a friend has been helped by it in the past, so we want to raise as much money as we possibly can,” Mrs Howe added.

“It would be great if everyone could donate when they come and visit. We always try and help charities that are local to the area.” The pair also want to warn motorists about parking on the road, and would advise using the lay-by directly opposite their home to stop and look at the lights.

The illuminations will be switched on from 4-10.30pm each day until Wednesday, January 1.

A collection box is positioned outside the gate for donations and emptied daily.