Derbyshire man waiting for double lung transplant shows Christmas spirit in annual lights display

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A man who is waiting for a double lung transplant is determined to continue putting smiles on children’s faces with his annual Christmas lights display.

Mark Peacock and his wife Julie, have transformed their garden at St Lawrence Road, North Wingfield, into a winter wonderland with £10,000 worth of festive decorations which will go on public display this week.

Julie said: “We want to raise as much money as possible for the lung transplant centre at Wythenshawe Hospital in Manchester. Because of Mark’s situation, we wanted to give something back.”

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Mark, 59, was diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis five years ago. Julie said: “He was struggling with his breathing when we were snorkelling on holiday in Cuba, Bali and Mexico. He thought he might have a chest infection so he went to the doctor. He had tests done which showed he had pulmonary fibrosis and rheumatoid arthritis. His lungs got worse 18 months ago and that’s when he was sent to Manchester to see about a lung transplant.”

Mark and Julie Peacock from North Wingfield show off their Christmas light display which is raising money for charity.Mark and Julie Peacock from North Wingfield show off their Christmas light display which is raising money for charity.
Mark and Julie Peacock from North Wingfield show off their Christmas light display which is raising money for charity.

Julie said: “Life expectancy is only five to ten years once you’ve had the transplant. Without the transplant, it’s two to three years.

"We got a call in July that they had a donor for him. We drove to Manchester at 11.45pm and on the night they were telling us all the different scenarios - I was absolutely petrified. He could die in surgery, the lungs might be no good, he could get infection. But the donation fell through because the lungs deflated too quickly and they sent him home at 7.15am.”

While he waits for a transplant operation, which will be followed by seven to ten days in intensive care, a five to six week stay in hospital and anti-rejection drugs, Mark is attempting to lead as normal a life as possible. He has been advised by his doctor that if he stops using his lungs, his condition will worsen.

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Julie said: “The longer it takes for a donor to come through his lung capacity will shrink and they might only be able to put one new lung in and not two. It breaks my heart.”

Mark and Julie Peacock's Chrsitmas lights display.Mark and Julie Peacock's Chrsitmas lights display.
Mark and Julie Peacock's Chrsitmas lights display.

He now uses an oxygen cylinder to help him cope with the exertion of everyday tasks like dressing and showering. “Mark loves playing golf but can now only go round if he has a buggy,” said Julie. “He can walk on the flat but he can’t climb 100 yards up a hill.”

A forklift truck driver at Joseph Ash in Holmewood, Mark has only taken sick leave when he broke seven ribs in a motorbike accident four years ago.

Julie, who works in a brokerage team at Derbyshire County Council, and Mark have devoted around 200 hours to getting their garden decorated for Christmas. “Mark has had to rest a lot more than normal, “ said Julie, 56. “He can’t bend down to put the plugs in because it makes him too breathless and he's only gone up the ladder when I can't do something. Initially, I thought that we shouldn’t do it this year but Mark wanted to continue.

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"Last year when we did it for charity, the excitement on children's faces and also the old made it all so worthwhile.”

Mark and Julie Peacock's Christmas lights displayMark and Julie Peacock's Christmas lights display
Mark and Julie Peacock's Christmas lights display

They will unveil this year’s festive wonderland to the public from Friday, December 2, when Santa will be attending the launch. Their garden will be lit up from 5.30pm on the opening night and from 6pm on subsequent evenings until the beginning of January.

Soaring energy costs haven’t deterred Mark and Julie from making the festive season a little brighter for their community. Julie said: “The display added about £150 to our electricity bill last year.” Donations from visitors to their 2021 lights show enabled the couple to give £1,000 to Air Ambulance and £230 each to Scouts and Brownies groups after they asked North Wingfield villagers via Facebook to nominate good causes.

Their festive decorations have been accumulated over several years and £2,000 worth of new additions including a reindeer, train and big Santa will be part of the 2022 display.