All wrapped up: Nunderi resident David North and Tweed Valley College student R’Chelle Louwen, with some of the 44,000 lights David donated to the school this Christmas.
All wrapped up: Nunderi resident David North and Tweed Valley College student R’Chelle Louwen, with some of the 44,000 lights David donated to the school this Christmas. John Gass

All lit up for Christmas

TWEED Valley College will be a shining light this Christmas thanks to a donation of 44,000 decorative lights.

Nunderi resident David North said he donated the lights after years of boxed lights taking up room in his house.

“I haven't put lights up for seven years, but I won the Tweed Christmas Light Competition twice after entering four times,” the 80-year-old said.

“The first year I entered I had 11,000 lights and won the competition.”

Assistant pastor at Murwillumbah Seventh Day Adventist Church Darryl Groves said someone from the school community told him about Mr North and his unused lights earlier this year.

“I went and saw him to ask if we could have the lights and we got them almost three weeks ago,” Pastor Groves said.

“He gave them to us on two conditions – one that when we put the lights up, the bulbs had to all be facing down and the second was they were not to be returned to him.

“I think his wife was getting annoyed with so many boxes in the house.”

Pastor Groves said many of the lights had been fashioned into shapes like sheep, shepherds and angels.

“We've had three students and some parents settings up the lights for the past few weeks,” he said.

“We haven't used all the lights, but as we get closer to Christmas we'll keep putting more up.”

More than 10 boxes of lights have been stored in the school's hall, with volunteers sorting and testing the almost countless strings of lights.

Mr North doubled his light count each year and said he spent about $20,000 on lights and $6000 on lollipops before giving it up.

“It used to take me about two months to get them all up, and two weeks to take them down,” he said.

“I ran out of helpers though as the grandkids have grown up and moved away for jobs.”

Mr North said he thought about 25,000 people would have visited his home each Christmas.

“Just from word of mouth people would come from everywhere – even the Sunshine Coast,” he said.

Pastor Groves said the school would be open to the public every night until Christmas if the weather was good.

The display includes Mr North's 10-metre-high “Christmas tree”, which includes 5000 lights wound around the frame.



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