Somerset

Man's 'extreme' Christmas lights in Wells

Paul Toole and his Christmas lights
Image caption Mr Toole has spent over £20,000 on his hobby

Every December, a quiet street in Wells becomes one of the brightest in the UK as an enormous Christmas light display attracts visitors from miles around.

The 50,000 LED lights which adorn eight houses in Manning Close are also helping to raise money for charity.

Visitors to the free display are asked to make a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Organiser Paul Toole, 36, said: "It's an extreme hobby that's taken over my life."

Mr Toole was first inspired to put on elaborate festive light displays at the Manning Close home he shares with his parents after visiting the US and seeing how people decorated their houses there.

He said: "The houses were so grand and their lights so much bigger and better. I was fascinated by what I saw and was hooked from then."

As the years passed and the technology became more sophisticated, Mr Toole increased the amount of lights in the display and encouraged his neighbours to join in, until eight houses in the road each formed part of the display.

Low energy lights

Mr Toole who has spent £20,000 on lights, claims the colour co-ordinated display - which is also sequenced to music - costs little more than £12 per week to run as he uses low energy LED lights.

At a special event this year, the lights were switched on by guest of honour, actor John Challis who played Boycie in TV's Only Fools and Horses. The switch-on was attended by over 1,000 people.

Image caption In 2010, the display raised £1,870 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation charity

A wishing well at the front of the display is there for visitors to make a donation to Mr Toole's chosen charity, The Make-A-Wish Foundation, which helps disabled children.

He said: "Christmas is about giving and it's a magical time when wishes come true."

The display raised £1,870 for the charity in 2010 and Mr Toole is confident that total will be surpassed this year.

He can hardly believe his hobby has grown into something so huge over the years and is attracting so much attention.

"It's all been surreal," he said. "From the early days with a couple of strings of lights to this.

"I feel really, really special. It's just amazing.

"There are so many miserable people in this country who moan about Christmas lights saying they are vile and tacky, but if everyone put just a few lights up, if every house did that, it would brighten peoples lives up."

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