Don't panic Mr Mainwaring: Teenager turns shed into shrine to Dad's Army TV heroes
Last updated at 4:25 PM on 11th June 2011
A teenager has turned his garden shed into an incredible shrine to classic BBC comedy Dad's Army.
Now dedicated Darren Stride, 19, is hoping his five-year labour of love will storm to victory in this year's National Shed of the Year competition.
The student is up against a garden 'pub' where smoking is still permitted, a pink palace summer house, a Noah's Ark creation and even a Doctor Who Tardis.
Dedicated: Dad's Army fanatic Darren Stride in his garden shed which he has turned into a shrine to the BBC show
Nostalgia: Darren became obsessed with Dad's Army when he watched endless repeats of the comedy with his grandfather
But the Dad's Army fanatic is confident his astonishing tribute to the brave men of Walmington-on-Sea Home Guard will give him a shed start.
Darren, of Scratby, near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, said: 'I'm just hoping for the best but I'm sure we can do it.'
His bottom-of-the garden Bygones Museum first hit the national spotlight four years ago and has become an established local landmark.
He has now made the final shortlist of nine from more than 1,500 sheds entered nationwide in the Cuprinol-sponsored contest.
And it is not just one shed that is being judged. Darren's shrine to Capt Mainwaring, Sgt Wilson, Jonesy, Private Pike and the team has spread to three huts.
Home guard: Darren has installed a donated World war Two Anderson war shelter made of corrugated iron in his garden
Memorabilia: Authentic gas masks, ration books, identity cards, uniforms and newspapers, including a wartime sweet shop, complete with sherbet lemons
Ready for battle: Joining up with the Walmington-on-Sea warriors
The talented teenager has even installed a donated Second World War Anderson shelter in the family's garden.
Darren, who has just finished his A-levels at East Norfolk Sixth Form College, Gorleston, said: 'Ever since my museum became known we have had people knocking on the door and asking to look round.
'I have even given conducted tours to Scout groups.'
No one could accuse him of being a 'stupid boy', in the immortal words of Arthur Lowe's Capt Mainwaring, for Darren aims to turn his grand obsession into a career.
He said:'My idea is to give Second World War talks dressed up in uniform.'
Darren's interest in Dad's Army started as a boy watching endless BBC repeats on the knee of his grandfather John Fenton, a private in the Queen's Own (Royal West Kent Regiment).
He fought in North Africa and Italy, including the legendary and bloody battle for Monte Cassino in 1944.
Before he died, aged 75 in 2001, he gave his grandson his wartime medals. Since then the collection of memorabilia has grown so big that Darren plans to move his unique museum into a permanent home.
It includes everything from gas masks, ration books, identity cards and uniforms to an authentic wartime sweet shop, complete with sherbet lemons and liquorice branches.
Frontline: Dad's Army team led by Arthur Lowe as Capt Mainwaring, John Le Mesurie as Sgt. Wilson, Clive Dunn as Jonesy, John Laurie as Pvt. Frazer, Arnold Ridley as Pvt. Godfrey, Ian Lavender as Pvt. Pike and James Beck as Pvt. Walker
Darren said he was forced to move it out of his bedroom into the garden when his long-suffering mum Pat, 60, became unhappy about the musty smell.
Darren, a regular visitor to the Dad's Army Museum in Thetford, Norfolk, has met cast members and writer David Croft, who even sent him a prized photograph of wartime leader Winston Churchill.
The competition winner, who will pick up a £1,000 prize, will be announced on July 4.
Darren said: 'I would just like to thank everyone who has supported me from day one - especially my late grandfather who got me into this obsession of mine.
I'd like to think he's up there smiling on what I have achieved so far as well as chuckling away with me at episodes of Dad's Army.'
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