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Christmas light show returns in memory of fun-loving dad

Published on Wednesday 20 December 2023

Visitors to Greenwich Drive South in Mackworth will be greeted with a display of over 11,000 Christmas lights organised by resident Paul Stills in memory of his dad, Dave.


The hand-crafted lightshow, synchronised to music, attracts hundreds of visitors and raises thousands of pounds for local charity Treetops Hospice which helped care for Dave. 

This is the third year that Paul, 54, has put on the festive display. It takes six months of preparation and is something Paul knows his dad would have loved:

“Every year when I get things ready, and especially at switch on, I have a little moment to think about my dad. I would like to think that he is enjoying the show but simply from a different place. I know that he would have absolutely loved it.”

Dave was diagnosed with PSP - Progressive Supranuclear Palsy - in 2014, six years before he died aged 81. PSP is a rare degenerative disease with no cure. 

“Dad was always such an active and fun-loving person. He was a life-long Derby County supporter and won hundreds of trophies playing table tennis. He loved walking in the countryside, and we used to go to beer festivals together. It was like going with a best mate rather than my dad. I will always remember his uncontrollable laugh, which was very infectious. Once he started, he really could not stop.

“But PSP slowly robbed him of this. He became bed bound and limited to a single room with his illness. It was very boring and demoralising for him.”

Dave started going to local hospice Treetops for care.

“Dad absolutely loved going to Treetops. It made such a difference to him to get out the house, meet new people and simply relax in lovely surroundings. He really looked forward to going.  It lifted him and made such a difference. He would always come back a little happier.”

As Dave reached the end of his life, Treetops Hospice at Home nurses also helped care for him and support his family.

“The nursing care we received from Treetops was second to none. It was so greatly appreciated by the family and my Mum especially, who looked after my dad full time, day and night. It allowed her very much needed breaks during the day and overnight. It was invaluable.”

The idea to put on a festive lightshow came to Paul during the pandemic.

“I had seen lightshows in the US and often wondered I could ever pull one together myself. When Covid hit and we were in lockdown, it was the ideal opportunity to use my spare time to start building my own lightshow. 

“I quickly realised that there is a lot to learn and a lot to build. Every single one of the 11,000 lights are hand pushed into the props as nothing comes pre-built. Each show is built uniquely to fit the house. Now that the computer-controlled units, lights and props are all built, I typically start planning and building around July in time for a Halloween display.”

Paul has raised over £2,300 for Treetops and gets immense satisfaction from seeing people’s reactions to his lightshows.

“I get lovely comments from the local community. Many families come back every year, with their children watching in awe at the pretty flashing lights to music – and the singing lightbulbs and Christmas trees! 

“The work never stops. I am constantly thinking of ideas to improve the show and wow the visitors, so you never know what additions there might be for next year!”

The Stillsy Lightshow runs until Sunday 24 December at Paul’s home on Greenwich Drive South in Mackworth. More details about the display can be found online. Donations to Treetops can be made on the Stillsy Lightshow JustGiving page.

For further information about Treetops services visit www.treetops.org.uk or call 0115 949 1264.
 




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