The Christmas spirit still strong in Hadleigh

Victoria Campbell, 12, and sister Hayley, 10, are looking forward to an English Christmas having spent the last 10 years living in France. ANL-150209-103804001
Victoria Campbell, 12, and sister Hayley, 10, are looking forward to an English Christmas having spent the last 10 years living in France. ANL-150209-103804001

Two young girls will be able to spend time with their ill granddad and experience an English Christmas after a house-swap appeal was successful.

Amanda and Gary Campbell have lived in France for the past 10 years, bringing up their two daughters to speak French and live as part of a rural French community.

Amanda’s parents have regularly visited their home in Caurel in Brittany, France over the years, but after suffering a stroke her father is now unable to visit, with her mother needing to look after him.

Desperate for her children to see their granddad and wanting to hold a traditional Christmas for all her family, Mrs Campbell was left stumped by the cost and lack of facilities at hotels, having to pay a premium for any sort of accommodation over the Christmas period.

Instead, she wrote into to the Hadleigh Community News magazine, asking if there was anybody who would be interested in a house swap, or whose house would be lying empty over Christmas.

It was an attractive offer, in return the Campbell family would offer out a holiday in France, where the family also has a holiday let, or a property they co-own in Menorca.

Not surprisingly the offers came in straight away, in total seven, with some asking for nothing in return, happy to have someone look after their home while they were away or simply pleased to help.

“The stroke left my father with communication problems and he is deaf,” said Mrs Campbell, who works at a primary school in France.

“The children can’t speak to him on the phone so we thought we would try to take them to visit family in Hadleigh and give them an English Christmas and see things like a pantomime or a carol service, Christmas decorations and lights.

“We don’t have a big show here, it’s very low key.”

“It will be lovely to see family. My brother has traditionally hosted Christmas so I thought it was my turn.

“I couldn’t host in a hotel room so wanted a lodge or something but prices doubled and trebled for the holidays.”

Victoria, 12, and Hayley, 10, will be heading to the UK with their parents on September 22, spending six days in the country just a short drive from their grandparents.

“The children are very excited to see the family and especially their little cousins.

“They don’t really understand about seeing a show though as they don’t have anything to compare it too.”

If successful, Mrs Campbell said it is something she might consider doing again in the future.