The daughter of an 86-year-old affectionately known as ‘Mr Christmas’ has fulfilled his dying wish by turning on his dazzling light display just 24 hours after he died.
Dave Edwards became a local celebrity in his village after covering his house with spectacular Christmas light displays over the last 42 years.
Dubbed the real-life ‘Mr Christmas’, he raised hundreds of pounds for charities as crowds gathered in the street in Croxley Green, Watford, Hertfordshire.
But this year’s big switch-on on Saturday (November 14) was a sad occasion after the 86-year-old passed away the previous night just a month after being diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Instead his daughter Sharon Markham, 50, turned on her father’s Christmas lights after promising him she would if he couldn’t make it.
The big switch-on came as people across the country turned on Christmas lights early to bring some Christmas cheer.
She said: “My dad was such an amazing man, the community has been devastated and the tributes that have been flooding in are just breath-taking.
“We had a nine foot Christmas tree donated and people have been queuing for three days to hang ornaments on it - there's been so many that we've had to decorate other trees on the lawn and hang some from above the driveway too.
“Dad never got to see the tree but we did tell him about it and he said it was 'marvellous'. He could hear people queuing outside so he still felt a part of it.
“I know how much this all would have meant to him. He really was a true hero.”
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The mum of two said she was just eight years old when her father began his eye-catching Christmas displays on the house after competing in a lights display competition with a house across the street.
Neighbours and locals soon came to love and expect his colourful and extraordinary displays and in previous years she and her husband Paul had even arranged for celebrities to do the light switch-on in past years, including X-Factor 2017 winners Rak-Su.
She added: “As a teenager I used to be really embarrassed by all this. Everyone knew my house as the Christmas house, and I would come home and find the driveway full of people trying to get a look inside the house, to see if it was as decked-out as the outside.”
But she said she had grown to love the tradition, which has involved a grotto in the garden and funds raised for charities including the Dogs Trust, homeless shelters and food banks.”
While 2,000 people usually show up to see the lights, this year’s event was a scaled-back family affair, she said, but was live-streamed on the ‘Mr Christmas Fundraising Lights’ Facebook page. She also organised a ‘fake’ light switch-on a couple of weeks ago so he had one last chance to turn on his lights.
Some of the family’s closest friends have organised a fundraising page to help support the family after the passing of ‘Mr Christmas’ and Sharon said she hopes to be able to use the money to save the 'Christmas house' and keep it in the family - so they can carry on putting on Christmas lights displays in her dad's memory.
To donate to the fundraiser in support of the family, visit: https://www.gofundme.com/f/mr-christmas-fundraiser.
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