It may be mid-May, and the sun may be shining brightly – but one man in Southport is already busy planning for Christmas.
Steve Henshall annually transforms his front garden into a spectacular lights display to raise money for Freshfields Animal Rescue.
And this year Christmas has come early, with Steve already creating new props and musical sequences ready in time for December.
Taking to social media on April 20, the Sidney Road Lights Facebook page posted: “It might be the beginning of spring with lovely hot weather and sunshine, but we’re still on with Christmas!
“Really great to be working on new props with the sun on your back, Dave Turley in the background on Sandgrounder Radio and it’s all for Freshfields Animal Rescue.”
Last year, Sidney Road Lights expanded into neighbour Peter’s garden.
And this year they are hoping to spread the display to their neighbours on the other side, taking over some of the Berry gamily’s garden to make the show even better.
Steve, 56, told LancsLive: “Sidney Road Lights is a Christmas light display that I run in the front garden of my road in Southport.
“This coming Christmas will be the fourth year we’re doing it. It’s like a computer-controlled musical light show.
“I took the show down the first week of January and almost immediately began building new props for this year. I pretty much work all year working on some aspect of the show.
“It’s so boringly repetitive sometimes making the props, but it’s great seeing the end results.”
Last Christmas, £1,159.50 was raised for Freshfields Animal Rescue, a charity which cares for abandoned, abused and unwanted animals.
The family offered hot drinks and Santa hats free of charge, and are again encouraging people to come and donate to a great cause this Christmas.
Steve, a former Trustee of an animal charity in Cheshire, now works for Moody Direct, based in Retford, Notts.
When he’s not travelling for work, he spares as many hours in the week to dedicate to the display.
Steve said: “My grandfather was an electical engineer and had me start at 11 years old. It’s been a hobby my whole life.
“We’ve always had lighting up and they’ve just got better and better.
“When I retire, I’ll be there in Freshfields being a cat socialiser or building something down there.
“They’re really encouraging.”
Steve writes some of the musical sequences, which can take up to 40 hours to create, and even exchanges them online, contacting people based in the US.
He’s currently working on hits from The Greatest Showman, a Harry Potter medley, a Star Wars medley and a Classic Christmas Hits medley.
If all props in the pipeline are finished, the total count will be around 16,000 lights. In 2016, the count was significantly lower, with only 3,000 lights.
Debbie Hughes, of Freshfields Animal Rescue, said: “Me and everyone else at Freshfields are in awe of Steve and his family. We are just so grateful to have a friend of Freshfields like Steve.
“Every year, he’s always really keen to get going early and we appreciate the dedication
“Over £1,000 for Freshfield’s last year was used for vet bills to help dogs like Mabel and help them start a new life.”
Steve is also planning another spectacular Hallowe’en show in aid of the charity, which may be extended to more than one night.