Littlehampton mayor turns his bungalow into festive wonderland
As the mayor of Littlehampton, this time of year is very busy for Billy Blanchard-Cooper.
Between turning on the lights in the town centre and attending various festive events, some might have thought he would have had enough of Christmas.
But the truth is, he loves it – so much so, that he and his husband, Chris, have transformed their home into a shrine to the yuletide.
The jewel in the crown is a Christmas village which has taken over the entire dining room, with hundreds of illuminated decorations including a train system and a working fountain.
Billy said: “People walk in and see everything, and they can’t believe it all.
“Then they turn the corner, see the village and are gobsmacked.
“No-one expects to see a whole village in someone’s two-bedroom bungalow.”
Due to the village, the electric lights and glowing reindeer adorning the outside of the house, the couple had to get an electrician to make sure it was safe.
The decorations cover the house from top to bottom, from Christmas mugs and glasses in the kitchen to snowflakes in the bathroom.
Garlands hang all around in different themes, from Venetian to elves, to another adorned with pieces of costume from his drag alter-ago Miss Daniella Dream – the garland that started them all. Click here to read more about his drag career.He said: “I came home one night with one of my friends who did drag and we were taking our jewellery off in front of the mirror. We kept clipping our earrings and other bits together.
“I woke up the next morning and thought I quite like that – so now every year it is tradition for me to go through my collection and find a piece to add to it.”
Billy, 35, said his decoration trove began when he was five years old, and when he met Chris, who he married in 2012, it grew exponentially.
“My theme was red, green and gold, and so was his, so I knew it would work,” he said jokingly.
Their collection is so vast that Billy had to take two weeks off work to put it all up.
When asked how many decorations they had, Billy was at a loss to count.
He said: “Everyone asks me this and I honestly don’t know but the tree alone has over 2,000 decorations on it.”
The tree he was referring to was eight-foot high, and from a distance it would fit in any Victorian household.
But upon closer inspection, it included some weird and wonderful decorations, such as pirates and treasure chests, foxes with rubber rings, and an ostrich with a Christmas wreath. There were also male and female torsoes and even a Father Christmas who was almost naked – but not quite – which came from an unusual shopping destination.
Billy said: “It was one of the best buys we ever had.
“We were at a Christmas market in Germany, and we stumbled across an LGBT Christmas market.
“Some of the stuff they had there was absolutely mad.”
At the suggestion of his friend and fellow Littlehampton town councillor Dan Purchese, Billy decided to hold an open house for friends to raise money for charity – and it has gone from strength to strength.
This year’s event, last Sunday, was so popular they will be hosting another. Billy said: “For us, it’s the start of the season and it was so nice to see everyone.”
Do you have an extraordinary festive display? Email [email protected]