Published: 11:15, 12 August 2021
| Updated: 13:00, 12 August 2021
Heartless thieves stole cash and a lawnmower from a pensioner as he held a garage sale for charity.
Gerry Collis, of Canterbury Road, Birchington, began selling items outside his home at the start of the pandemic, as a way to keep busy and raise money for the NHS.
He continued throughout the various lockdowns and changing seasons, only taking Sundays off, and is delighted to have raised £2,000 for East Kent Hospitals Charity.
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 he has not been put off by the mean-spirited thieves.
“Doing this helps to keep me busy. If I didn’t I’d just have to help out more with the housework!"
“The good always outweighs the bad," he said. "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 about £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, says she is in awe of Mr Collis’ 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 money raised by Mr Collis goes to East Kent Hospitals Charity's Helping Your Hospitals Appeal, supporting the wellbeing of frontline staff.
For more information about the appeal or to donate, visit its website.