Belfast Telegraph

Northern Ireland pensioner Frankie Gervin's hand-made winter wonderland

Frankie Gervin at his Coalisalnd home that he has decorated for Christmas
Frankie Gervin at his Coalisalnd home that he has decorated for Christmas

By Christopher Leebody

An 83-year-old pensioner has become a local celebrity after bringing Christmas to Coalisland with his remarkable hand-made winter wonderland.

Each year for the last decade, Frankie Gervin has put together the impressive display entirely on his own.

The life-long joiner takes to his workshop every October, where he finds the inspiration for a new theme and spends up to 12 hours a day in his shed crafting new figures.

The yearly tradition delights Frankie's family and neighbours, but thanks to social media his hobby has now seen him attract fans of his display from across the world.

Frankie's Coalisalnd home that he has decorated for Christmas
Frankie's Coalisalnd home that he has decorated for Christmas

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Frankie said: "I was a joiner all my life. From the age of 10, I was in my workshop carving and working.

"The only tools I use are a bread knife and a wire brush. It started off as a Christmas theme but now it has just developed into a general winter scene. It's supposed to be funny."

This year the Co Tyrone man has included a dramatic rescue scene, with firemen on ladders climbing up the house

"People always ask me what I am going to be doing each year - there has to be a change. On one occasion a little boy outside asked me what I was going to do. I joked that I would put a helicopter on the roof," he said.

"At the time, when my wife reminded me that the child was going to want to see it, I decided I had to make it for real. It's a massive helicopter made out of lino mainly.

"This year I decided I would have the helicopter crashing into the roof and I have the fire brigade climbing up the house in order to rescue the pilot."

It's a particularly poignant year for Frankie, the first Christmas since his beloved wife Eleanor passed away from cancer in April, just weeks before her 80th birthday.

The couple had been due to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary.

Despite the deep sorrow he felt, Frankie explained his family wanted him to continue the tradition and the man himself felt he "couldn't let anyone down".

Frankie Gervin at his Coalisalnd home that he has decorated for Christmas
Frankie Gervin at his Coalisalnd home that he has decorated for Christmas

"Neighbours thought I would stop, but my grandchildren encouraged me to keep it going. I don't think I'll ever get over her death but this hobby takes my mind off it," he said.

Thanks to his granddaughter Lorna (39) posting a video of the house online, the pensioner has made a name for himself around the world.

"He is an inspiration. The amount of work involved is amazing. The Facebook video has been shared everywhere - in Africa and Russia and loads of other places," Lorna said.

"Everybody comes from all over to look at it. The police have even visited. He loves it when people are outside taking pictures and cars stopping. It means the world to him."

Frankie's Coalisalnd home that he has decorated for Christmas
Frankie's Coalisalnd home that he has decorated for Christmas

Belfast Telegraph

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph