The Oxford Street Christmas lights are on, meaning it’s officially Christmas! And this year, the iconic festive lights celebrate the nation’s COVID heroes
Lead image: PA
The West End lit up on Monday 2 November with the switch on of the Oxford Street and Bond Street Christmas lights.
After a tough year, Oxford Street – Europe’s longest shopping street, with 1.5 miles of shopping running from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Road – is paying tribute to the 2020 heroes who have helped strangers during the pandemic by literally putting their names up in lights.
The first week sees Anis Ali, an NHS Volunteer Responder, in the spotlight as nominated by Royal Voluntary Service (RVS), with more heroes being nominated by the public over the next seven weeks.
RVS, the charity delivering the NHS Volunteer Responder programme, recognised Anis, from Morden, for being one of the first to sign up to volunteer.
Anis donated the most hours out of any of the volunteers in London during the pandemic, completing an incredible 733 tasks since March, while also continuing his day job driving the Great Western Railway train to Heathrow.
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To London With Love
As part of the poem To London With Love, created in partnership with Selfridges, the public can vote for their hero’s name to appear in the iconic lighting display for seven full days over the next seven weeks. In addition, the heroes who appear will win a £500 Oxford Street shopping spree.
‘Anis really embodies the incredible acts of kindness we’ve seen from our 2020 heroes and their unwavering support through this pandemic, so we are thrilled to be able to thank him, and everyone he represents with our Christmas lights display this year,’ said Luciana Magliocco, Associate Director at New West End Company.
‘The Oxford Street Christmas Lights really do bring the magic of Christmas to those visiting the street over the festive season, so we’re excited for Londoners to be able to feel the magic, despite the national lockdown.’
NHS Volunteer Responders
‘We take so many things for granted,’ said Anis Ali on seeing his name in lights. ‘Some people don’t have anyone at all they can talk to and it’s such a difficult time for people. I was desperate to do something to help the community and especially the NHS considering the pressure it has been under during this pandemic.
‘Having the chance to get to know people in my community and support the NHS at this difficult time has been the best opportunity I’ve ever had and I will continue to do support for as long as I am needed.
‘I would love to encourage other people to volunteer as I have as this will not only provide one-to-one support to people in need, but also will reduce the pressure on the health service.’
NHS Volunteer Responders is now recruiting for more volunteers to support the NHS and communities through what is set to be a difficult winter. Applications can be made here.
Oxford Street will also be selling exclusive To London With Love t-shirts for £22.50 as part of the 2020 Heroes Campaign, with 100% of the profits going to RVS. Click here to buy.
To nominate your 2020 hero and for full T&Cs, visit oxfordstreet.co.uk