Coatbridge’s very own Santa Claus is hosting his last ever lights display after 20 years.
Alistair Doyle has lit up the community with his jaw-dropping lights display and raised more than £100,000 since the spectacle began in 2002.
Hundreds of families have flocked to his Sharp Avenue home to experience the lights and sounds for a magical day out every festive season.
But Mr Doyle, who turns 79 on Christmas Eve, is hanging up his Santa hat for the final time – and he wants the long-running spectacle to go out with a bang.
He told STV News: “I have arthritis and the cold weather has slowed things down a wee bit. I have to take things easier. My age is catching up with me.
“Everybody is saying ‘you’re going to miss this’. Since it started parents have been coming with their children, year after year and getting photographs. People absolutely love it.”
Mr Doyle starts the installation in mid-October and has it completed by December 1, when there is an official switch-on.
He estimates he has forked out over £50,000 for lights and decorations over the last two decades – with his energy bill working out between £10 and £15 a day during winter.
His most expensive item was a huge snowman that arrived from Devon at a cost of £800. He also has a giant unicorn and a polar bear chair for kids to sit in, costing £600 and £400 respectively.
No stone is left unturned in creating his Christmas wonderland, with Santa’s workshops, lights twinkling down fences, the North Pole flanked with polar bears (his favourite feature) and a beautiful nativity scene.
The pensioner said “it’s a lot of work” – but he does it all for the community and his favourite charity, the Ronald McDonald House.
“I lost two young nieces to leukaemia – it’s all because of them. It’s a home-from-home for parents. I’ve always got along well with the charity,” he said.
Mr Doyle has worn many hats in the community over the years, from a clothes shop worker to swimming pool manager, and he has been a lollipop man for local schools for 27 years.
“The other night in my garden a wee kid told his mum ‘Alistair is my lollipop man’ and his mum said ‘he was mine as well’,” he said.
“The community is great here. I just love it. I’d never leave it. I worked with people all my life, everywhere you go, you know who you’re talking to.
“Even if you go abroad you still meet someone from Coatbridge.”
Mr Doyle hopes to drum up even more cash for the grand farewell and enjoy a well-earned Christmas with his niece, Janice.
“I’m a big fan of Christmas,” he said. “It’s a wonderful time of year – it’s even better known you have made people smile.”
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