FOR 15 years, John and Sheila Ramsbottom have been lighting up Chichester Drive in Woodvale to celebrate Christmas.
From the humble beginning of Mary and Joseph with Jesus in the crib, the display has grown to a full nativity scene with camels, wise men and shepherds and a manger scene.
“We also have a patio area dedicated to children and those young at heart, a full-size sleigh pulled by six kangaroos, the Polar Express layout, extra information available about the Christmas season on laptops and a (4.5m) Christmas tree with electronic music and visual displays,” Mr Ramsbottom.
Since deciding nine years ago to collect for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, the couple has raised more than $32,000 from donations and the sale of their Christmas cakes.
“We even have Santa in an aeroplane who practices his landing again and again,” Mr Ramsbottom said.
“This is popular with children but over the years it has damaged my shoulder – catching and pulling it up.
“Eventually, a switching system made life easier but it needed a dedicated person to sit and flick the switch.
“Many people suggested Santa should run automatically but not even electrical engineers were able to offer their help.”
A few months ago, Mrs Ramsbottom contacted the Landsdale-based Northern Suburbs Men’s Shed to see if they could help.
“They have been fantastic,” Mr Ramsbottom said.
“They made sure what was needed and then applied their minds to see what was technically possible to make it happen and then did it.
“Now Santa lands and reverses automatically without the need of me sitting there and flicking a switch.
“It also means I can now mingle with the people and talk to everyone.
“They even built a new ramp.”
Men’s Shed member John Norman said they were happy to help.
“They used to have to manually push the aeroplane up the ramp,” he said.
“It was in pretty bad condition so we refurbished it.
“Then we put a mechanism on it that has a trip switch at the top and bottom to make it all automated.
“Whenever we can we like to support charities and not-for-profit organisations because we are a not-for-profit ourselves.”
See the lights at 119 Chichester Drive.