Family’s touching tribute to grandad famous for his Christmas lights

A grandfather who became famous for his extravagant Christmas lights has been remembered in a touching tribute by his family.

Phil Knighton, from Llanbradach, was well-known for his incredible annual light displays before his sudden death on his 71st birthday on April 8.

A loving grandfather who doted on his family, Phil had been in hospital recovering from a kidney issue when he contracted coronavirus.

Now in the months after his death his family have come together to put up some of the Christmas lights he had painstakingly collected over more than a decade in his memory.

Christine and Phil would save up for Christmas lights all year
(Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

Phil’s wife Christine said: “Phil has done the lights for the last 15 years. It’s become a standing joke in the street.

“It started with my dad. My dad used to have gnomes in his garden and light them up at Christmas. Phil decided he would go one better and do Christmas decorations.

“It started as a joke and then when he won one competition one year it went from there.

“He would always wait and go straight to the shops when the sales were on and shops wanted to get rid of them. I still have a savings fund to put money away each month for Christmas lights.”

Phil loved Christmas and would plan his light displays every year
(Image: Eloise Knighton)
Dozens of people usually come to see the annual decorations
(Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

Every winter, Christine and Phil would receive dozens of visitors to the house on Heol Ty Gwyn, as well as those who were lucky enough to get a glimpse of the decorations inside. It usually cost around £100 to power the display for six weeks, after an annual switching on ceremony on December 1.

Although the family have not been able to put up all of Phil’s elaborate light nets and chains this year, they decided to give it a go by themselves after grandaughter Eloise came up with the idea.

Phil doted on his family and two grandchildren
(Image: WalesOnline/Rob Browne)

Christine, 70, said: “Phil had such big plans for this year. He was always changing the lights and everything. He planned it every year.

“My daughter-in-law has been fantastic. I think he’s been talking to her from up above. The amount of people that come even now to see it. People didn’t think we would do it, I didn’t think I would do it, but Eloise wanted to and [daughter-in-law] Michelle said ‘right let’s do it’.

“I just wish he was here to see the recognition, people just love it. He absolutely adored Christmas, it was his favourite time of year.

“He worked on the railway all his life and he had a fantastic railway set which he has built over the years. Last year he bought a Coca Cola lorry for it from the adverts.”

A former electrician and non destructive technology technician for the railway, Phil was also known for his time running a video shop in the village.

Married to Christine for 31 years, he will be remembered as a “people person” who loved his two grandchildren.

Christine said: “He was quiet but he would be very dry. He loved people watching, that was his favourite thing. I’d go shopping in Cardiff and he’d just say leave me in the arcades and pick me up when you’re done.

“He was definitely a people person, he loved his grandchildren”

WalesOnline – Wales News