Christmas lights couple will not put up display this year due to ill health
- Credit: Chris Crane
A Dereham couple will not be putting up their dazzling display of Christmas lights this year due to ill health.
Dennis and Mandy Firmage, who live in Toftwood, are famed across the local community and beyond for their extravagant efforts.
Visiting their lights, on Farm Way, has become an annual pilgrimage for hundreds of people every year.
Sadly, though, they will not be lighting up their neighbourhood in 2021 as Mr Firmage continues to recover from major surgery.
It means it is the first time in 16 years - when they first moved to Toftwood - that they have not been able to decorate their home.
"I had to go into hospital in October for an operation, and it has taken me a while to get back more or less to where I was before," said Mr Firmage.
"I knew before going in that I would not be able to do the lights. I usually start putting them up at the beginning of November, but I knew there would be four or five weeks where I could not do anything active.
"In the end, I couldn't get out and do much until the beginning of December."
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Christmas lights have long been a part of Mrs and Mrs Firmage's life, having put up elaborate displays for more than 30 years.
They lit up their street for 15 years when they lived near Fakenham, and continued the trend after moving to Dereham.
Over the last five years, they have used the festive season as an opportunity to raise money for various good causes including East Anglia's Children's Hospices, Nelson's Journey and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.
"We've had people come from all over the place to see the lights - some from as far as Devon and Cornwall who have come up to visit family," added Mr Firmage.
"We try and speak to as many of them as we can, and we have had quite a few people say they will really miss coming round."
While sad they cannot raise money for charity or welcome visitors, Mr and Mrs Firmage have instead been showered with cards and gifts to wish them well.
Health permitting, they hope to bring their lights back with a bang in 2022.
"I will be getting towards 80 years old next Christmas but, if we are well enough, we will do it again."