Billy Bulb is back in time for town event

C131167-3 Bog Billy  phot kate''The team who revived Billy the Bulb. From left: Paul Wells, the mayor, Darrell Hardy, caretaker of the model and painter, Greg Burt, secretary of Bognor Regis seafront lights, Jim Price, the son of the original designer, and Tim Hoad, who instigated the campaign.Picture by Kate ShemiltC131167-3

C131167-3 Bog Billy phot kate''The team who revived Billy the Bulb. From left: Paul Wells, the mayor, Darrell Hardy, caretaker of the model and painter, Greg Burt, secretary of Bognor Regis seafront lights, Jim Price, the son of the original designer, and Tim Hoad, who instigated the campaign.Picture by Kate ShemiltC131167-3

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A POPULAR Bognor Regis mascot has been brought back to life in time to shine.

Billy Bulb will be making his first appearance in public since being given a new lease of life at the town’s Illumination Gala.

Billy has been painstakingly restored by Darrell Hardy.

Mr Hardy said: “I have spent about a week getting him back to his former self. He was in a bad state when I started, he was a bit mouldy and needed some repairs but he is back to how he was now.

“My grandfather Ronald Whittington helped build him originally and I used to sit inside him and work his arms and legs.”

Mr Hardy will be the one towing Billy when he leaves West Park as part of the procession on Sunday.

“It is special to see Billy back to what he was and I think it will be good fun for a lot of people watching the parade who will remember him,” added Mr Hardy.

Bognor Regis town councillor Jim Brooks, alongside his father Hal, was one of those who helped build the original giant fibreglass bulb.

He said: “It started about 35 years ago a group of us got together and started looking at lighting up the seafront and the town. The Illuminations Gala was started and we decided we needed a mascot and came up with the idea of Billy Bulb.

“It is beautiful to see Billy back. He brought a lot of excitement and joy and to have him back in time for the gala really is fantastic. I hope he will continue to bring happiness to the people of Bognor as he once did.”

Billy was thrust back into the spotlight after resident Tim Hoad started a Facebook campaign to find him.

Mr Hoad said: “It is great to see Billy back and looking so well. Darrell has done a great job.”

The town’s mayor Paul Wells is also pleased to see a rejuvenated Billy.

“It is fantastic. Billy has been a mascot for the town for many years.

“A lot of people in Bognor Regis have grown up with him. It has been a great opportunity for us to get him back in time for the illuminations gala.”

n For more on the gala see page 17.