Champion fundraiser from Thorpe St Andrew hangs up his Cystic Fibrosis Trust collection bucket
A dedicated fundraiser, who has collected more than �150,000 for charity outside supermarkets and garden centres, has hung up his collection bucket for the last time.
William Bradley, who celebrates his 86th birthday today, has become a well-known face across Norfolk for raising money for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, often accompanied by his hand-made Thomas the Tank Engine and his collection of toys.
But after being diagnosed with motor neurone disease Mr Bradley, of Furze Road, Thorpe St Andrew, has decided to retire after collecting an astonishing �152,420 for the trust in the last 17 years.
Mr Bradley has been described by the charity as a one-off and a wonderful Cystic Fibrosis Trust ambassador, and to pay tribute to his achievements Waitrose in Eaton is holding a fundraising day in his honour next month.
Mr Bradley started his charity efforts after his granddaughter Natalie Bradley was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis - one of the UK's most common life-threatening inherited diseases and which affects vital organs by clogging them with mucus that makes it hard to breathe and digest food.
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He said when he first started he never dreamed he would raise more than �150,000, and at one point he was raising about �15,000 a year.
'I did all the fundraising for my granddaughter Natalie,' he said, speaking proudly of how Natalie, now 22, is pursuing a career in dance.
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Mr Bradley said: 'I would like to say a very, very big thank you to the customers. I really and seriously miss them all.
'I would also like to say a very big thank you to all the managers and staff who have allowed me to go on their premises to fundraise. Without them I would never have been able to raise so much to help my granddaughter and other people with cystic fibrosis.'
Natalie Bradley, who is studying dance in the community at University Campus Suffolk and also teaches dance, said: 'I think it is amazing that he has been fundraising for so long. It is just amazing how much he has raised. He has done so well and I owe a lot to him. There are things he has funded for the hospital like my nebuliser which I would not have otherwise.
'It is really important to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust so they can carry on doing research to find a cure and so people can have easier lives.
'I am really proud my granddad has raised so much money and played a big part in helping the Cystic Fibrosis Trust.'
Mr Bradley is married to Joan and has three children, six grandchildren including Natalie, and five great-grandchilden.
Mr Bradley's grandson and Natalie's brother Carl Bradley, 25, said the whole family was proud of Mr Bradley's achievements, and the family has previously called for Mr Bradley to be made an MBE.
He said: 'I just think it is amazing what he has done. My granddad is my inspiration.'
Christine Berwick, secretary of the Norfolk branch of the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, said: 'Mr Bradley is a one-off. 'He is a great ambassador for the trust.
'He has raised a phenomenal amount single-handedly from standing outside supermarkets and garden centres in all weathers for about eight hours a day.
'The money has gone mostly towards research which benefits everyone in the UK with cystic fibrosis, and some has specifically helped young people in Norfolk by funding high speed nebulisers.'
In 2008 Mr Bradley was named Volunteer of the Year in the Norwich Evening News Local Heroes Awards, and last year he was a regional finalist in the Pride of Britain awards.
The fundraising day at Waitrose Norwich in Eaton will be on February 24 and the details are currently being finalised.
Waitrose Norwich manager Mark Fulcher said: 'Mr Bradley's fundraising activities have been an inspiration to the many that have met him over the years and we are saddened to hear his recent news.
'We have seen first-hand his dedication to fundraising in our store and welcome the opportunity to make a contribution to a very worthwhile cause.'
Other stores Mr Bradley has collected at include Sainsbury's in Pound Lane and Queens Road, Norwich, Costessey and North Walsham, Tesco at Caister and Stalham, Homebase at Hall Road and Rowntree Way in Norwich, Morrisons in Norwich, Cromer, Beccles, Catton and Fakenham, Roys of Wroxham and also the Magdalen Street branch, Budgens at Holt, B&Q at Boundary Road, Norwich, The Range at Costessey, Taverham Garden Centre, Sprowston Garden Centre, and Highway Garden Centre, Norwich.
• For more information on the Cystic Fibrosis Trust visit www.cftrust.org.uk
• Do you know somebody who has recently made a great achievement? Call reporter Emma Knights on 01603 772428 or email email@example.com