Festive houses light up

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FESTIVE SUPPORT: Frank Sandys, pictured with cat Soxy, has raised more than $1800 for Ashburton Fire Museum after opening his festive decorated home to the community last month.
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Four Ashburton households and the Ashburton Fire Museum are among those to benefit from a raft of festive house light displays last month.

The fire museum, operated by Grey Watch at The Plains Railway & Historical Museum precinct in Tinwald, was the recipient of $1800 raised by Ashburton resident, and volunteer fireman, Frank Sandys.

He received donations from people who visited his Philip St home in December to view the extensive lighting collection set up around his property.

There were lighting displays, inflatables, reindeer and Christmas scenes set up in rooms along the side of the house which could be viewed through the windows from the backyard.

The lighting display took five weeks to set up.

‘‘I do it different every year. It’s just whatever comes into my head, there’s never a plan.’’

Sandys said visitors numbers were pretty slow in the early weeks of December but in the days closer to Christmas it was busy with up to 300 children, with adults, visiting on one night alone.

It was based on the number of candy canes he gave away.

‘‘I just do it soley because I want to do it. It’s all worth it when you see people’s impressions, from young to old, when they come round and actually see it, when they walk through that gate and to hear their expressions.’’

Sandys, a Grey Watch member helping to run the fire museum, was thankful for the support of his neighbours, some of whom had decorated their properties.

He said the money raised would help with the museum’s current restoration project on a 1928 Dodge fire engine.

Grey Watch is made up of firefighters, former firefighters and enthusiasts who have a passion to showcase the history of the Ashburton Volunteer Fire Brigade.

‘‘It’s a 1928 Dodge, which used to be the Allenton fire engine,’’ Sandys said.

‘‘We want to get this engine going, have it all restored by November because we are 150 years old (then).

‘‘And of course it was the old Allenton fire engine and that will mean all the appliances would have been in Ashburton.’’

Sandys has already bought lights for this year’s Christmas display which he is promising will be bigger and better.

‘‘Watch this space,’’ he said.

In the inaugural The Best Christmas Lights house competition, run by Property Brokers Ashburton and Hokonui radio station, households at 5 Albert St, 273 Wills St and 11 Porter St took out the top three placings, respectively.

The inaugural competition drew 23 entries from around town, spanning Allenton, Hampstead, Netherby and Tinwald.

The People’s Choice Award was won by 44 Nixon St.