Birchington’s Gerry Collis, 85, on a mission to raise cash for East Kent Hospitals Charity

Gerry Collis with his garage sale

By Liz Crudgington

A Birchington pensioner has raised £1,000 for East Kent Hospitals Charity by selling goods from his garden during lockdown.

Gerry Collis, of Canterbury Road, started after a clear-out, but now sells items donated by neighbours, as well as supporters from across Thanet.

The 85 year old has previously raised thousands of pounds for the Kent Air Ambulance, when he was captain of Westgate and Birchington Golf Club, and decided to continue fundraising independently.

He said: “I have raised money for a long time, so when we had some stuff to get rid of I thought about doing a sale. We sold all of our items, then all of a sudden donations started coming in and so I kept on going.

“Now I’m out there almost every day and I’ve raised £1,000 in 10 weeks – all thanks to everyone who has given me the items to sell.”

Mr Collis keeps Sundays free as a religious day but can be found at his stall on most other days if the weather is fine – and as long as he has finished his chores.

He said: “My wife is very understanding and she puts up with a lot. So I make sure the housework is done then I’ll pop out there for a couple of hours.

“I take the crossword out with me in case there aren’t any customers but I’m usually kept quite busy.”

His most expensive sale was a computer, donated by a neighbour, which fetched £100. But even the smallest items add up.

He said: “I’ve sold a spade and a watering can for £1 each, but those pounds all add up. You would be surprised at what sells – but I’ve had a packet of size three nappies for several weeks and I can’t persuade anyone to take them!

“I really want to thank everyone who has donated items, because without them I couldn’t do what I do.”

Dee Neligan, fundraising and development officer for East Kent Hospitals Charity, said: “We are so grateful to Mr Collis for his tireless efforts to raise funds for our Helping Your Hospitals Appeal.

“His support will ensure that we can continue to provide well-being initiatives for our incredible NHS Heroes across East Kent Hospitals.”

Find the East Kent Hospitals Charity website here