Germany’s most famous Brit who set up a ‘Little Britain’ theme park as a tribute to his homeland complete with a London double-decker bus and a telephone box from Trafalgar Square has applied to become a German citizen.
Englishman Gary Blackburn, 55, runs a successful tree cutting service in Linz am Rhein, a picturesque town on the River Rhine in the German state of Rhineland-Palatinate.
But he is famous across Germany for running a bizarre British-themed attraction park on his own grounds.
It features a red Routemaster double-decker bus, several statues of Queen Elizabeth II, a telephone booth which originally stood on Trafalgar Square and even a Centurion tank, Britain’s best known post-World War II battle tank.
Despite his love of everything British, Gary has now applied for German citizenship as he said he has no other choice because of Brexit.
Gary said: “Perhaps someday they will not allow me to return. I have a British passport but currently, with Brexit, there are no certainties here for many.”
Having already successfully passed an integration test, Gary filed for a German passport on Valentine’s Day, which coincidentally is also his birthday.
Gary said: “I fell in love with the area here. When I was 21 I came to Germany where I had a holiday home at the Dragon’s Rock [a famous local hill with a castle ruin on it].
“Then I climbed up there and saw the nature, [the town of] Bad Honnef and Cologne Cathedral. And then I called my parents to tell them: ‘I am staying here’.”
Currently, Gary’s company, which employs 10 full-time workers and 18 British seasonal workers maintains and cures the trees of 30,000 customers. Three of Gary’s six children also work for him.
Gary said he likes the organised nature of Germany the most, especially when dealing with government offices.
He said: “Besides that I also like the order, the cleanliness. There is hardly any rubbish in the streets. England could learn something from that.”
Gary, who said he “likes Germany and England both equally”, also said that Germans can learn something from the English.
He said: “We are more helpful, find a solution to a dispute rather than complain.”
In a twist of irony, Gary had to temporarily close his Little Britain theme park on order of the German authorities due to the same rules he so admires in his adopted country.
He said: “School classes from England, tourists from China, the US or Canada come to me – but not at the moment.
“At the moment a lot of it is closed because I require building permits for it thanks to German thoroughness.”
Gary, however, hopes that he can reopen his Little Britain theme park in 2020 and said the municipality is currently aiding him to solve the permit issue.