Dennis lights up to save lives

WHEN Dennis Backhouse decided his Christmas lights display would raise cash for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, it set him a challenge he could not resist.

WHEN Dennis Backhouse decided his Christmas lights display would raise cash for the East Anglian Air Ambulance, it set him a challenge he could not resist.

He knew at once the display at his bungalow at Melton just had to have a fully lit and working helicopter model. So Mr Backhouse immediately set about finding the parts he would need.

An old sea buoy - thanks to WJ Mills' scrapyard at Hollesley - cut in half provided a cockpit and rear for the two-metre long whirlybird.

Aluminium strips, offcuts of wood and parts of an old washing machine were also put to good use.


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Like so many of the working models in Mr Backhouse's festive fairground, the moving parts are powered by old windscreen wiper motors

"Patsy Johnson at the air ambulance charity asked me if I had a helicopter and I said, no, but I soon will have! I really enjoyed making it and it was amazing how it came out - I am very pleased with it," he said.

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This year's display at his home in Wilford Bridge Road features thousands of lights, plus snowmen, Father Christmasses, reindeer pulling sleighs, and his famous working models - including a see-saw, which is also new for this year, and a two-metre high 16-seater big wheel, carousel and other items.

Traders have been fantastic in helping to supply parts and paint, and a Framlingham store lent a snow machine for the big switch on, carried out by paramedic Tim Daniels as a crowd of around 50 people gathered in the garden.

Last year Mr Backhouse, 74, a retired prison officer, and his wife Muriel, raised £2,522 for the Framfield House surgery in Woodbridge, and this year are hoping to raise a similar amount for the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

"I am really chuffed with the lights this year and I hope people will come and see them and really enjoy them and help support a really good cause," he said.

"I love to see the children enjoy them, too - especially the kids who come into the garden and want to see the working models, and the older kids, too, like myself who find them fascinating.

"The air ambulance people told me that if I could raise £2,000 it will help fly the helicopter for a day and that could save five lives. I really hope we can do that."

n To enter the Evening Star's We're Dreaming of a Bright Christmas competition for decorating the outside of your house please ring 01473 324788, e-mail starnews@eveningstar.co.uk or write to The Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.

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