Broad Oak man wins first festive lights competition

24th December

Ty Blackman

David Blackman’s son Ty who helps his dad

The Heathfield News team is pleased to announce the winner of our festive lights competition. Nominations came in from across the area but a display in Broad Oak stood out from the crowd.

The winner was 75-year-old David Blackman of Plummers Rest, Street End Lane, Broad Oak. He won a £50 shopping voucher kindly donated by Co-op in Heathfield.

The judge Janice Reed, of Janice Reed Design Ltd,  said: “There was tough competition but the winning entry definitely had the wow factor with lots of different design themes and a stunning variety of different types of functioning lights.”

Second place and highly commended by the judge went to 74-year-old Brian Austin of Alexander Road, Heathfield. The judge said that Brian’s entry showed lights can be applied to lots of surfaces in a balanced way to achieve great results.”

We interviewed Dave Blackman for the story behind his amazing festive light display.

Nativity scene

The nativity scene at Plummers Rest, Broad Oak, Heathfield


How long have you been putting lights on your house?

“We’ve been doing it off and on for about 20 years and we thought it was a good way to raise money for charity. We love creating the display for the local children and now we have second generation children visiting – people who visited as children have grown up and are now bringing their children to the house which is amazing.”


How long does it take to put the display up?

“My son Ty and I start preparing in mid October and spend every weekend up until December 1st working on the lights and putting them up. There are always repairs to be done. Two thirds of our attic is taken up with lights as we have so many of them. Taking the lights down actually takes longer than putting them up as we need to make sure each item is completely dry before we can store them. For a few months into the new year the house is in chaos with lights everywhere drying – even in our conservatory!

“We like to include all the illuminated blow-moulded figures and objects and always have a nativity scene. We really want some more blow-moulded items but they are really hard to get hold of these days. The lights are independent from the circuit the house electricity runs off and there are 150 13 amp sockets to power the lights. Nowadays most of the lights are LED so my electricity bills aren’t too high. It costs me £100 to £120 a year in extra electricity.”


What do your neighbours think?

“We had a few complaints when we first started but now everyone seems to love our displays. We have new neighbours with two small children and they are very excited about the lights which is great. But just the odd person stopping to say thank you gives us the motivation to do it all over again the next year.”

How long does the display stay up for?

“We always switch on the lights on December 1st and switch off on the 5th or 6th of January. They are on a timer which starts at 4pm and goes off at 10pm every day.”

Why do you go to all the trouble and expense?

“We really enjoy doing it and also raising money for charity. For the last few years we have raised money for Macmillan Cancer

A very close family friend called Tina was looked after by Macmillan Cancer which is why we chose to support the charity. Last year we raised around £400 and we are on target to do the same this year.”

Which part of the display to you like best?

“I like the dancing Santas which have a passive intra red beam that makes them sing carols when people get close to them.”

Festive lights

Dancing santas

The collection box and dancing Santas