A RISHTON Star Wars fan says: "May the Fourth be with you’’ this Bank Holiday as he holds a convention for would-be Jedi masters.
Father-of-four Neil Livesey, 50, became hooked on the sci-fi phenomenon in his teens after the eagerly-awaited release of Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977.
Since then he has collected over 1,000 figures of different characters and is excited about his second convention on Monday – the Star Wars Fan Fun Day Strikes Back.
The enthusiast said: "I’m a massive fan and I have wat-ched all six films hundreds and hundreds of times. I have been a fan since I was about 17 and I’m now 50.
"There was a lot of hype in 1977 about this new film. Star Wars was only being shown in major cities across the country so me and a few friends went to Blackpool to see it. I was blown away by it. A couple of months later in Blackburn I saw a figure of Obi Wan Kenobi for just 99p and now, several thousand pounds later, I have a massive collection.
"I am looking forward to getting some of my characters signed by the actors who played them at our event. The fourth bedroom in our house has become the Star Wars room. A lot of my collection is just boxed up because I don’t have the room to display it.
"I go to a lot of conventions myself but all of them seem to be in the south of the country which is why I wanted to do something locally."
The Bank Holiday event, at Burnley Football Club, will feature five actors from the films including Kenny Baker (R2D2); Garrick Hagon (Biggs Darklighter); Richard Le Parmentier (Admiral Motti); Richard Bonehill (Nien Numb, Rebel Officer, Snowtrooper etc); and Derek Lyons (Rebel Honour Guard).
There will be indoor laser quest, several stalls selling memorabilia and figures, costumed characters, a fancy dress competition and much more.
Neil added: "We had a small event last year but this time it’s going to be bigger and better.
"I’m not aiming to make a profit, I just want to break even. I’ve paid for it all from my own money. My wife is a little nervous because it’s cost a lot more than last year but we’re hoping for a good turnout.
"I have had to pay for flights, accommodation and appearance fees for the actors and the cost of the room and other marketing and publicity.
"If we do get any extra money, it will go towards organising next year’s event."
The dedicated follower even has his own Darth Vader outfit – a replica of the one used in the film – and he made a special trip abroad to coincide with the 30th anniversary of the release of the first film in 2007.
He said: "Me and my long-suffering wife Suzanne made two trips to Tunisia to visit the different locations in the films. My wife tolerates it. She isn’t a big fan herself but the compromise was that we stayed in a five-star hotel so she could have all the beauty treatments.
"My children aren’t fans either – they think it’s an obsession I have. However, my youngest, Ben, 17, is happy to go along to the conventions with me and has his own Stormtrooper costume."
The event will run between 10.30am and 4pm. Entry is £5 for adults and £2.50 for children under 16.