Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Pensioner’s festive display makes top ten in NI

A Newry pensioner who has lit up his home for the last 8 years in aid of the Southern Area Hospice says he is delighted his Christmas illuminations have been featured on Cool FM’s top ten list of the Best Christmas Light Displays in Northern Ireland.

Big hearted Bernie Hughes lights up his Derrybeg home and his community’s spirits with spectacular displays each Christmas, transforming his front garden into a dazzling festive wonderland which attracts daily donations from generous onlookers keen to lend their support.

The 85 year old makes sure the season of goodwill shines brightly in his neighbourhood with his ever expanding light spectacle, raising thousands of pounds for the hospice in the process.

Speaking to The Examiner about the latest recognition of his renowned display, the spritely octogenarian, who is also a tireless church and community worker, credits his late wife Immelda with first coming up with the idea of lighting up their home for charity.  In fact Immelda is still very much remembered in the display, with a notice in her memory erected with the donations box each year.

Bernie reveals that generous donations of lights and decorations over the years have also helped the spectacle get bigger and better each Christmas.

The unstoppable pensioner has a helping hand from his grandsons who have set up the display for the last few years, but he insists that, given the chance, he could put it all together himself “in a week.”

“I sort out all the decorations and lights every year, testing and checking that everything works,” he says.

“I don’t do much climbing now with my new knee so they put it all together now!

“People are very good in the area, they don’t park in front of the house so the display can be seen and the donations have grown every year from we started out.”

Unaware that his grand-daughter Linda had submitted a photo of the illuminations to Cool FM, Bernie says he is very grateful to have been named on the list and hopes to continue his festive fundraising spectacle for many years to come.

Congratulating the Derrybeg grandfather, Grainne Mulgrew at Southern Area Hospice said,

“Bernie has put so much work into his Christmas Lights display at his home for over 8 years now and has raised a magnificent amount of money for his local Hospice.

“It is a great achievement and a well-deserved one that he has made Cool FM’s Top 10 Christmas displays in Northern Ireland list.  We are delighted for him and truly appreciate his continued support”.

Grainne also took the opportunity to congratulate another local man who is celebrating his tenth year of Christmas illuminations in aid of the hospice.  The Southern Area Hospice encourage everyone to come and support Tommy O’Hare and his family as they continue to raise funds for their local Hospice at Christmas with their wonderful display at their home in Leode Road home in Hilltown.