Norfolk teenager’s Dad’s Army museum in line for award

PUBLISHED: 17:28 12 June 2011

Darren Stride has been shortlisted for shed of the year. He has created a dad's army themed shed along with other WWII artifacts.

Darren Stride has been shortlisted for shed of the year. He has created a dad's army themed shed along with other WWII artifacts.

Archant © 2011

He is competing against a garden “pub” where smoking is still permitted, a pink palace summer house, a Noah’s Ark creation and even a tardis.

However, Dad’s Army fanatic Darren Stride, 19, is confident he is the one with the shed load of talent that will carry him to victory in this year’s National Shed of the Year competition.

Darren, whose bottom-of-the garden Bygones Museum first found a national spotlight four years ago, has made the final shortlist of nine from more than 1,500 sheds originally entered in the Cuprinol-sponsored competition.

And it is not just one shed that is being judged; since 2007 his shrine to Captain Mainwaring and all things Home Guard has spread to three sheds and he has even installed a kindly-donated Anderson shelter in the family’s garden in California Avenue, Scratby, near Great Yarmouth.

Darren, who has just finished his A levels at East Norfolk Sixth Form College in Gorleston, said: “Ever since my museum became known we have had people knocking on the door and asking to look round, and I have even given conducted tours to scout groups.”

No one could accuse him of being a “stupid boy”, in the immortal words of Captain Mainwaring, for Darren has a dream of turning his obsession into a career.

“I am going to be discussing my business plans with Enterprise GY, but my idea is to give second world war talks dressed up in uniform,” he said.

Darren, whose interest in Dad’s Army started as a young child watching BBC repeats on his grandfather’s knee, also plans one day to move his museum into a permanent home.

Since his grandfather gave him his medals, the collection has grown to include everything from gas masks, ration books, identity cards and uniforms to even an authentic wartime sweet shop, complete with sherbet lemons and liquorice branches.

Darren recalled that his collection moved out of his bedroom into the garden because his mother Pat was unhappy about the musty smell.

“My dad said, ‘all right, you can have my garden workshop’,” he said.

Darren, a regular visitor to the Dad’s Army Museum in Thetford, has met cast members and writer David Croft, who even sent him a prized photograph of Winston Churchill.

Ahead of the winner being announced on July 4, when Darren will learn whether he has won the £1,000 prize to further enhance his collection, he 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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