Owners of a renowned lighting and Christmas decorating firm say they are delighted after their latest project was praised by the Prime Minister.
Steve and Jan Clayton, owners of Illumidex UK Ltd, have received wide acclaim since they lit up Lord Street in Southport.
The historic mile-long shopping and dining boulevard is now sparkling with 300,000 lights strung across 80 trees. The 20 miles of lighting used is nearly long enough to stretch across the English Channel.
Their work has now been recognised by the Prime Minister, who was responding after being asked by Southport MP Damien Moore whether he would visit to see the impact of the £38.5million Town Deal funding which was recently allocated to the seaside resort.
Speaking in the House of Commons on 10 March, Boris Johnson said: “Yes, indeed. I am told that the boulevard of light on Lord Street rivals the Champs-Élysées itself, and I will certainly keep my Honourable Friend’s invitation in mind.”
Steve Clayton said: “I couldn’t believe it when the Prime Minister was talking about our lights in Parliament!
“I was quite shocked! Boris is on our side! I am impressed that he has heard about them.
“We must have done a really good job to have been mentioned in Parliament.
“I am looking forward to the Prime Minister visiting to see what he thinks of Lord Street’s lights first hand.
“I wonder how many other towns and lighting companies receive such recognition from the Prime Minister in the House of Commons?
“Hopefully once the lockdown is lifted people will flock to our beautiful town to see what all the fuss is about.
“I can’t wait to see it all at Christmas and hope that if Boris Johnson does visit, he plans it around then. Southport will be spectacular together with the newly transformed Southport Market and other new projects unfolding around our town. Southport will certainly be back on the map.”
The huge project to remove old lighting which was past its working life and replace it with newer, brighter lights was begun by Illumidex UK Ltd in November last year and was completed at the start of March.
The scheme was led by Southport Business Improvement District (Southport BID) which provided some of the funding, in addition to a £100,000 Acceleration Grant through Southport Town Deal.
The aim was to create a sparkling environment to attract people shopping, dining and enjoying nights out in Southport town centre when lockdown restrictions ease and more businesses begin to reopen.
Steve Clayton said: “We did the blood, the sweat, the tears, the freezing temperatures and the rain, but we did it!
“There is no other street like this in the UK as I know of with 20 miles of lighting along both sides of a mile-long shopping boulevard, with 300,000 lights. It’s no wonder it was recognised in Parliament!
“When I step back and look at the lights they give me a very emotional feeling. I am so pleased with the way it has all turned out.
“We have had lots of fantastic feedback from people who have seen them.”
Illumidex UK Ltd also manufactures and installs decorative Christmas lighting in Southport town centre and elsewhere in the North West.
Steve Clayton said: “The first time we provided festive lights and an illuminated tree with LED lights in Southport, Peter Andre was on stage headlining! 50,000 people came to watch our Christmas lights being switched on!
“While Southport is my hometown but I grew up in Wigan, we would love to decorate other places in the North West, such as Manchester, St Helens, Blackburn, Bolton, or anywhere else locally.
“We do a lot of residential work too, wrapping trees in people’s gardens with lights. It is great for when they are having a party or an outdoor gathering, something we are going to enjoy a lot more of when the Covid-19 lockdown restrictions start lifting.
“As well as external residential and gardens, we also provide lighting for shopping centres and retail parks too, both at Christmas and throughout the year.
“We have won the contract to provide decorative lighting for Ocean Plaza retail and leisure park in Southport for the next three years, which includes putting motifs up on their lampposts. We are looking to install some illuminated Christmas decorations at Central 12 retail park in Southport this year.”