Swarland Banksy raises money for Great North Air Ambulance with her Elf on the Shelf themed toppers

Every night a around 10.30pm the ‘Swarland Banksy’ sneaks out to bring some Christmas joy to the village and raise money for charity.

Elaine Fallais had never picked up a crochet hook in her life until 2023 but since taking up the hobby in her retirement, she has been decking out the village’s post box with all sorts of themes throughout the year.

Now that it’s festive season, Elaine has taken on the ambitious endeavour of decorating the post box with an Elf on the Shelf themed scenario every day in December, in order to entertain her fellow villagers and raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance Service.

Elaine said: “Through the summer I was thinking I enjoyed doing these post box toppers and I love seeing people taking pictures of them and passing word around everyone else, and beforehand, no one knew it was me.”

Elaine had been wondering what else she could do that wasn’t just toppers before, only a week later, an air ambulance landed a street up from her house. With that, the decision to raise money for the Great North Air Ambulance was made and Elaine has been coming up with different scenes and keeps locals guessing what the naughty elf will get up to next.

Her secret status brought her the nickname the ‘Swarland Banksy’ and even though the secret is out, it hasn’t taken away Elaine’s fun.

"I'm a child at heart. I love the Elf on the Shelf. I just think it's so funny some of the things they get up to,” Elaine added.

The local crafts club have also got involved by making little trinkets to go in the advent calendar, which Elaine puts three or four in a day for people to take away with them.

“I go three, four times a day and I put little things in. It could be a Christmas tree made out of buttons, or another girl does lots of fused glass so there's fused glass ornaments or key rings, always something that’s hand crafted by someone in the village” Elaine said.

The festive scenes aren’t just for locals to enjoy as Elaine posts the elf’s daily shenanigans on Facebook and on her JustGiving page which she encourages people to send a donation to in support of the Great North Air Ambulance.

So far, Elaine has raised about £430, smashing her £250 target.