It may be July but one Preston family is already celebrating Christmas.
Mark and Nicola Tipping, whose dazzling festive light displays raise thousands for charity, have been recognised with a national honour.
The couple, who live in Cottam, have been given a British Citizen Award for service to volunteering and charitable giving, and will head to a prestigious ceremony today at the Palace of Westminster.
For the past three years, the couple have adorned their home with 30,000 lights to raise money for Rosemere Cancer Foundation, Cardiac Risk in the Young, and Derian House children’s hospice.
Mark, 49, said: “I’m quite shocked. We’ve been doing this charity work for three years and we’ve raised £35,000.
“It has grown and everyone likes it but we didn’t know we were being nominated.”
I’m quite shocked. We’ve been doing this charity work for three years and we’ve raised £35,000Mark Tipping
Mark and Nicola will travel to London today, where they will be given a VIP open-top bus tour of London and a champagne reception.
He said: “I think there are a lot of people who deserve it more than us.
“We are the lucky ones – we collect for these charities and we’ve had nothing personally to do with them.
“I feel very honoured.
“We can show the award to people and say this is what we’ve got with your help.”
The pair, along with their three sons, Samuel, Joseph and Isaac, invite the community to see the lights at their home, in Valentines Meadow, which raises thousands of pounds every year.
They will now receive a medal of honour, inscribed with the words “for the good of the country”.
They can also use the initials BCA after their name.
Mark said: “We never expected such recognition. We couldn’t do it every year without the huge generosity of our local community.” The couple were nominated by Jaki Ryding, who attends the annual switch on.
Mark said they didn’t know Jaki personally, and said: “It is nice that she has gone to all the trouble to get it for us”.
Jaki said: “The work the family put into the event is exceptional, Mark is a scaffolding supervisor and Nicola a busy mum but they are truly inspirational in what they do every year.
“They are always happy and positive and enjoy life. They love the fact that everyone has a really good time on their front door step and they inspire other people to help.
“Mark and Nicola are fantastic role models to their children and everyone in their community and they really do show how one small family and an awful lot of hard work, enthusiasm and commitment really can make a difference.”