This woman has the world’s biggest Wombles collection - and she’s about to sell them off
PUBLISHED: 06:30 24 October 2019 | UPDATED: 08:37 24 October 2019
Their litter-picking on Wimbledon Common sowed the seeds of sustainable living - and maybe even Extinction Rebellion.
So it is entirely appropriate that the superfan who owns the world's largest collection of Wombles memorabilia is a senior lecturer in sustainable consumption at the University of East Anglia (UEA).
But now Gill Seyfang, who has The Guinness Book of Records stamp of approval for her impressive collection, is breaking it into smaller lots and selling it at auction next month.
The creatures, created by Elisabeth Beresford, appeared in children's novels from 1968 and lived in burrows, where their goal was to help the environment by collecting and recycling rubbish.
The books became TV series from 1973 to 1975, with all the characters voiced by Bernard Cribbins - including Tomsk, Tobermory, Orinoco, Great Uncle Bulgaria and the fearsome Madame Cholet.
Ms Seyfang said: "The philosophy of the Wombles is what resonated with me the most as a young girl, so I would say it has definitely inspired my life and what I teach now.
"On a simple level it is about pesky humans leaving their crisp packets on Wimbledon Common, but it also goes a little deeper about humans not looking after the planet.
"It was really ahead of its time."
She said she had spent 35 years building up the collection, but decided it was now time for a new chapter.
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"There's something about reaching the milestone birthday of 50, and also when I got the Guinness World Record it was hard to know what else to do with it," she said.
"I had always hoped there might be a museum but that's never materialised. It's time for a new chapter."
She said she had held onto a few pieces for which she had a particular soft spot, and which had come from her childhood.
But she said she - and, she added, her bank balance - were enjoying a break from hunting on eBay for additions to the collection.
The collection features 1,703 items, plus a Guinness World Records certificate confirming its record-holding status.
While most of the single items will be sold at the British Toy Auctions event in Cheshire on November 9, some of the larger single items will be sold at a later date as part of The Auction Centre's fine art auction.