TODAY he’s financial director of several lifestyle magazines, but 30 years ago David Stephenson was Blackpool’s original Fibre Optic Man.
With the Centenary Lights newly finished, David, 50 last month, recalls how he emerged from his shed on Bispham Cliffs after dark to the awe and amazement of visitors back in the 1982 Illuminations.
Then an accounts clerk in Blackpool’s electrical services department, David admits he acquired the night job by pure chance.
“I was the one slim enough to fit into the costume which had been created out of two boiler suits connected to 27ft of fibre optic cable and a 75 watt bulb.”
He tells Memory Lane: “In all, I spent more than 100 nights alongside the tableaux from 1982 to 1984. I would stand absolutely still and then when people were right in front of me I would mimic their movements. When they walked away I waved and shouted ‘goodbye’ which really freaked them out!”
And he even became the first ‘robot’ to give autographs.
“It did get a bit lonely out there on my own, but one elderly couple came to see me with their young grandson three times while staying at holiday flats across the road. On their last night they even brought me some fish and chips. I had a Fibre Optic Man photograph which I autographed for the little lad, who was chuffed to bits.”
Not all visitors were so friendly. David remembers fireworks being thrown over the top of his shed, narrowly missing him. Another time he came out of the hut to find the tableau alongside had gone up in flames and the firemen told him to get out of his suit and move away until the blaze was out.