BY day he drives a JCB, by night he dons the body armour of a Stormtrooper from the evil Galactic Empire – welcome to the inter-stellar double life of Kenneth Bradbury.
Yes, the 53-year-old Star Wars enthusiast from Brierfield is a committed member of the 99th Garrison: The Home of the Empire in the North-East, North-West and Midlands.
At 5ft 3in. and with a broad northern accent, Kenneth is an unlikely Stormtrooper, but that hasn’t stopped TK3823 from enjoying himself.
The outfit cost around £600 to assemble and is as true to the original films as possible. It is not just a case of boys with toys, though, as members of the 99th Garrison have raised thousands of pounds in recent years for charities across the country.
“I have been hooked on Star Wars since the day I stepped foot in my local cinema in Halifax to watch the original film in 1977.
“I was just gobsmacked. When that spaceship flew over in that first scene that was it, I wanted to be a part of it,” Kenneth said.
But it would be many years later before Kenneth, who moved to Brierfield in 1990, would get to be “a part of it”.
Indeed, it would be the unlikely star system of Nelson that gave Kenneth his way into the Star Wars world. “I got to hear about a lad from Nelson, Steve Hird, who dressed up as Darth Vader at events.
“Later I started to assemble my Stormtrooper outfit and was buying fans to cool my helmet one day, when I met Paul Eke.
“Paul is in the 99th Garrison and he asked me to join. It’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made – it’s great fun, gets us to lots of events and raises lots for charity.”
But what does Kenneth’s wife Karen and workmates make of his unusual hobby?
“I get a bit of stick from my workmates who always ask me where my light saber is.
“They obviously don’t know about Star Wars because Stormtroopers don’t carry light sabers...we carry blasters!
“Karen doesn’t mind my hobby either. In fact, she helps me to get into my costume which takes around an hour. Everything has to be just right.”
Kenneth travels around the region as TK3823 but was recently closer to home when Turf Moor hosted its annual May Day Star Wars convention.
The night before, all the re-enactors were lucky enough to share a meal with actors from the original films – notably the main man, David Prowse, who donned the infamous black suit of Darth Vader.
Being part of the 99th Garrison and rubbing shoulders with the professionals has given Kenneth the acting bug.
Together with comrades from the 99th, he recently headed out to Formby sand dunes to film a promotional video for the group which can be seen on YouTube.
“I would encourage anyone to get involved. It’s a superb hobby while also helping out very worthy causes. May the force be with you!”
To find out more visit www.99thgarrison.co.uk. To view the video go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxWbohnj8jM.