Christmas

Christmas-loving Harold Hill dad spends £2,500 on magical decorations

PUBLISHED: 16:13 10 December 2015 | UPDATED: 17:11 10 December 2015

Colin French with grandson Teddy outside his house

Colin French with grandson Teddy outside his house

Archant

A mechanical engineer has spent £2,500 covering his house in decorations for strangers to enjoy - just because he loves Christmas.

Santa at Colin's houseSanta at Colin's house

Colin French, 45, can look out of his window at any time during December and see dozens of children and parents admiring his work.

His home in Wednesbury Road, Harold Hill, becomes a festive attraction every year, and the dad-of-three spends months preparing.

“I love Christmas because it brings people together,” said Colin. “I turned on the lights on December 1 but I started putting them up a month before this year because I had to re-wire all the lights, changing them from filament to LED.”

Every year he aims to improve, and this year he managed to get his hands on a “bargain of a sleigh”.

"I get quite embarrassed about it all, I just like that it gets people together"

Colin French

“It was £500 down from £800 on eBay,” he said. “A shop in London moves all its props to a warehouse in Basildon and sells them online. I don’t know what I’ll do with it afterwards, it’ll probably just go in the back garden.”

He also has a train on a track circling a tree on the lawn, but the highlight of his house this year is a looped video of Santa projected onto a shower curtain in an upstairs window.

“I used to make decorations when I was little out of bits of bark and things like that, silly little things,” he said. “I’ve always done it, but not as much as this.

“I did it for charity for a few years but people haven’t got money so I don’t want them to worry about that, I just want them to enjoy it.”

Mechanically-minded Colin will often go outside and speak to onlookers about his work, and receives nothing but praise.

“Everyone seems really positive about it,” he said. “I’m not outwardly like this, I get quite embarrassed about it all, I just like that it gets people together. And my neighbours love it – as far as I know!”

He admittedly doesn’t have to experience having visitors as much as his wife Samantha and three daughters Rachel, 24, Lily, 21 and Alex, 16 – because he works late at Browning’s Electrics in Barking.

“Sam says we get about 50-100 a day. I’ve never had any problems. Nothing has ever been damaged or stolen, I have a lot of faith in Harold Hill. It’s got a bit of a reputation but I’ve never seen any of it.”

And there’s no jealousy when he sees a house even more extravagant than his.

“I love it when other people do whatever they do but I like to stick to a theme,” he said. “I like to keep it traditional.”

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