By Liz Crudgington
A Birchington pensioner has added another £1,000 to his fundraising for East Kent Hospitals Charity – despite falling footfall and thefts.
Gerry Collis, of Canterbury Road, started selling items from his garage at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and handed over £1,000 to the charity’s Helping Your Hospitals Appeal in September last year.
He continued throughout the lockdowns and changing seasons, only taking Sundays off as a religious day, and said he was delighted to have been able to add to his total.
The 85 year old said: “I still have my regulars who come and spend two or three pounds at a time but it has quietened down a lot.
“I had a mower stolen, just taken when I was in the garage, and another time someone took my cash tin.
“That was found up the road in a hedge, but of course the money had gone.
“But the good always outweighs the bad – one of my neighbours told a gentleman he knows about the thefts, and he came to see me.
“He’s 100 years old, and he turned up and said he understood my tin had been stolen. I told him about the mower too, and he opened his wallet and gave me £20. It was a lovely thing for him to do.”
All the items Mr Collis sells are donated, with bikes the most popular. A kayak was sold the same day it was donated and transported back to London by its delighted new owner.
But a cot he estimates is worth around £200 is yet to sell.
He said: “It’s an absolutely beautiful cot and I don’t think the baby even slept in it once, but I just can’t seem to sell it. I’d like £50 but I’d take offers.
“Doing this helps to keep me busy. If I didn’t I’d just have to help out more with the housework!”
Dee Neligan, senior charity officer for East Kent Hospitals Charity, said she was in awe of Mr Collis’s dedication.
She said: “His commitment is humbling and I’m delighted to hear he has reached the £2,000 milestone.
“He is not put off by the weather, or by the thefts he has sadly experienced, and I hope the community and people passing by continue to help him to help our NHS heroes.”
All the money goes to the charity’s Helping Your Hospitals Appeal, supporting the wellbeing of frontline staff.
For more information about the appeal or to donate, visit https://www.ekhcharity.org.uk/news-and-events/nhsheroes/