World record holder, barrister and ANU Law lecturer David Richards gained a new title this week – ANU 2016 Alumnus of the Year for Philanthropy.
Far away from his barristers' chambers in Canberra and Sydney, David has built a reputation for giving, through the festive sparkle of Christmas lights.
For the past five years, David has installed Christmas lights at locations across the ACT to raise funds to support the delivery of bereavement counselling services by SIDS & Kids ACT. His efforts have raised more than $750,000 to maintain the charity's local service delivery.
It's a cause close to David's heart. His wife and he experienced the neonatal loss of their son Thomas in 2002 and David has remained motivated to help the organisation that supported his family. And he has done that with gusto.
That year he set up the Thomas Richards Administrative Law prize at ANU and set about raising awareness and funds through charity work.
In 2011, David installed 331,038 Christmas lights on his home and claimed a Guinness World Record. After the record was beaten, David decorated his family home with more than 500,000 lights in 2013 and reclaimed the record. The display attracted more than 75,000 visitors and raised nearly $140,000.
In 2014, David worked with architects, designers and engineers to build a light display in Canberra City. More than a million lights were assembled and switched on. This claimed the Guinness World Record for the largest LED image display. Last Christmas, David claimed a further Guinness World Record for the most lights on an artificial Christmas tree, with more than 500,000 lights on a 21-metre tall tree in Canberra CBD.
It's a passion far from teaching law at ANU and David's extensive work in personal injury civil litigation but his festive spirit has brought cheer to tens of thousands of people in and around the ACT.