'I'm planning to set fire to Buckingham Palace!'
A BONFIRE builder will see his final masterpiece go up in flames after 20 years of creating famous buildings.
Eddie Heath spent five months constructing the 20ft high replica of Buckingham Palace from wooden pallets for a charity bonfire evening at the Royal Oak pub in Dilhorne.
Eddie, a retired scrap metal worker, aged 63, from Dilhorne, said he chose Buckingham Palace to honour the Queen's Diamond Jubilee year.
He said: "It just seemed fitting to choose Buckingham Palace in a year when we've had so much to be proud of in Britain."
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Eddie has built dozens of landmark bonfires since 1992.
Each time, hundreds of people from the local community and further afield have attended the events, which this year includes fireworks, food and live music.
The replicas are made from more than 1,000 wooden pallets donated by local companies. Eddie said: "There's a bit of everything in there. The gates are made from garden canes and we've used old doors for certain sections."
Eddie has a team of helpers including his three sons, Damion, Adrion and Jason and his wife Christine.
However, he says: This year will definitely be my last bonfire. As we're all getting older, it's more work – and my wife will kill me if I don't stop." Eric Porritt, aged 74, from Blythe Bridge, has been helping on the bonfire projects for 12 years.
He said: "I got into it because I'm friends with Eddie and if you're friends with him, you get dragged into these projects. It's always a brilliant night and we're proud of what we achieve each year."
In the past, Eddie has built models of Big Ben, Wembley Stadium, the White House and the pub itself.
When a mocked-up Tower of London was set alight in 2008, it made more than £5,000 for charity. Proceeds from the night will go to Staffordshire Air Ambulance.
Eddie said: "Several of my friends have been helped out by the service in the past. I think it's brilliant."
Mike Cunningham, the landlord of the Royal Oak, said: "I've been running the pub for about six years now and I've seen three of the bonfires. They are incredible. People come from really far away to see them."
Pub regular, Jason Dudley, aged 38, from Cellarhead, said: "I'm taking my family to see the bonfire. When I first saw the palace, I couldn't believe Eddie's attention to detail – it's phenomenal."
The bonfire will be held at the Royal Oak on Sunday from 7.30pm. Tickets are £8 and are available from the pub or on the night. Eddie says he won't be too sad to see his latest creation go up in flames. He adds: "This is my art."