THE long, dark nights of winter can take their toll, but one Worcester woman has found a way to spread a bit of cheer in the gloom.

For the past four years, Tracy McGrath, of Warndon Villages has been conducting a streetlight watch, counting down the days until the return of the lighter nights.

The 51-year-old watches the streetlight outside her home most nights between December 21 and February 2 when the evenings are at their darkest.

She then makes a note of the time it switches on and texts her observation to family and friends, together with poignant poetry and quirky quotes.

Examples of her messages also feature lyrics from songs, including a medley of Cliff Richard’s greatest hits in a homage to his Wimbledon appearance when her observation on January 8 was rained off. Throughout the duration of this year’s watch, Worcester has gained more than an hour of daylight.

The grandmother-of-five said: “It’s only a bit of silliness. It was intended to show the very dark part of winter doesn’t actually last very long. I only text a few family and friends.

“I was off sick about four years ago and started doing it. I get the most amazing responses. It says to people ‘look, the nights are getting brighter already’. A couple of friends who live in different places send in roving reports.

“A lot of people struggle with these dark days so it helps spread a bit of positivity.”