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A St Cuthbert’s Hospice volunteer is celebrating after collecting his 500,000th 5p piece in aid of St Cuthbert’s Hospice.

Ian Watt, of Great Lumley, got the idea to collect the little coins after a conversation with his granddaughter ten years ago. They are now coming in at a rate of 8,000 to 10,000 a month thanks to an army of family, friends and friends of friends.

Ian said: “Hundreds of people are collecting 5ps for me but they all know every last one of the coins is going to St Cuthbert’s Hospice. That’s what keeps up the momentum and gets more people involved.

“I get a real buzz from collecting just one 5p. To reach 500,000 is brilliant. I am now going for a million. They are coming in faster and faster.”

He said he was proud that the coins add up to £25,000 – all of which has been used to help maintain services.

Ian, 67, is well known for his 5p coin collections at Durham City Football Club and among fans at Durham County Cricket Club. He runs quizzes and has got hundreds of local people collecting for him. He also runs four well-subscribed coach trips a year for the hospice, with all his regular travellers collecting coins.

He said: “Kids throw them away. It’s a coin people hate. Last year, I picked up £30.50 in 5p pieces.”

Ian, a retired technologist with Dunlop at Washington, said it was not always easy to get his 5p collecting boxes into pubs, clubs and shops. Many only wanted to have collections for national charities.

He added that his wife, who encouraged him to volunteer at St Cuthbert’s Hospice is now so tired of hearing him say “5p”, she now insists he calls them “half tens” at home.

St Cuthbert’s Hospice Chief Executive, Paul Marriott, said: “Every 5p collected is one more step towards raising the money we need to provide Hospice care to the people of County Durham.

“Without the efforts of Ian, his network of collectors, and so many more volunteers, we would never reach our goal. Ian is an inspiration to us all and reminds us that it really is true: if you look after the pennies, the pounds will look after themselves!”

The hospice is currently marking Hospice Care Week. St Cuthbert’s Hospice, which needs £1.3m a year in donations this year, provides places for 75 day guests and 10 in patients.

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