A WOMAN is using her creative talents to craft unique festive Christmas decorations and raise money after the death of a friend.

Claire James, aged 47, was inspired to fundraise for Bury Hospice in memory of her friend and colleague, Nicola Groves, who had been cared for at the hospice, and died in June this year after battling with pancreatic cancer.

Ms James described a light bulb moment as she came up with the idea to build her first Christmas tree mannequin when thinking about getting her festive decorations out for an early family Christmas — as her son James Gent, who serves in the RAF, is due to be deployed to the Falkland Islands at the beginning of December.

Ms James has since created three Christmas tree mannequins using recycled Christmas decorations and shop mannequins, deciding to advertise her first creation on Facebook as part of an auction and making the other two for a window display in the Bury Hospice store in Millgate shopping centre.

"When I went to visit Nicola it was the first time I had been to the hospice and I couldn't believe how incredible Bury Hospice was with Nicola and her family and friends. They were lovely," said Mrs James, co-director at Greenwood James Estate Agents in Bury Road.

"After Nicola passed away, I said I would try and raise some money for the hospice.

"I am not the sort of person to run marathons or jump out of a plane, so I decided to do a Christmas tree mannequin.

"I have never done anything like this before and I just did not expect this kind of response, it has been overwhelming."

The mannequin auction closed on Saturday receiving around a dozen bidders with the winning bid of £295 coming from Lisa Beamer from Bury.

Ms James also has a just giving page which has raised £465 exceeding her £300 target, and she now hopes to raise a total of £1000 for the hospice.

Sam Duncan, retail and volunteer services manager at Bury Hospice, said: "We are overwhelmed by Ms James' kindness and creative talent.

"Everyone at the hospice is very grateful."

To donate to Ms James appeal visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/claire-james33