Chimney sweep’s brush with the buses

Chimney sweep Bob Waite
Chimney sweep Bob Waite

A CHARITABLE chimney sweep has come up with another madcap idea to help a worthy cause.

Bob Waite will make his way from Folkestone, in Kent, back home to Blackhall – with nothing but his bus pass.

The 61-year-old will rely on the generosity of strangers for food and a bed over the next three days as he makes his way on a 300-mile bus route up the country.

The wacky dad-of-two, who will have no mobile phone or cash on him, will hitch a ride on buses through 23 towns in the hope of getting back home safely.

He hopes he will be able to lay his head down for the three nights at charitable places, including Salvation Army halls, but fears his bed could be a bus shelter.

His strategy, or lack of one, is simply: “To come home.”

It is all in the name of raising money to fix the bell at St Andrew’s Church, in the village’s Hesleden Road.

The historic bell, hailed by officials at the 81-year-old church as “the voice of the community”, has been out of action since 1990.

Kind-hearted Bob appeared in the Hartlepool Mail in December, describing how he was taking part in the Boxing Day dip at Seaham to raise funds towards a £2,000 target.

Now he is being sponsored to add to the funds by taking part in his latest charity venture.

Bob’s previous charity stunts include the Darwin experience, which saw him and daughter Gayle Waite, 35, kayak from Hartlepool to Crimdon in 2009 and from Seaham Harbour to Hartlepool’s Heugh Breakwater and back last year to raise money for Peterlee Lions and the RNLI and a sky-dive for Horden businessman Dick Graham’s Schools for Gambia scheme.

Bob, who is also dad to Tracey Coverdale, 37, and granddad to Charlie Campbell, 15, Katie Coverdale, 12, and five-year-old Maisy Coverdale, added: “My family think I’m round the bend!

“I’ve got to cadge my bait and my bed.

“I have got no idea where I’m going to sleep.

“I’m just going to play it all by ear. I’m considering sleeping in a bus shelter if I have to.”

When asked if he had sought any advice about the trip, he said: “Yes, I’ve been told not to do it!”

Bob was due to be getting a lift down to St Andrew’s Church, in Folkestone, today with Greatham-based pigeon-transporter The Up North Combine.

Blackhall butcher Paul Chapman has given Bob some provisions, including pies, for his first day.

He will carry posters informing people about his charity mission, which he hopes will help persuade people to be more charitable towards him.

Bob, who is married to Denise and previously raised £4,500 for a winter wonderland fun event at Blackhall Community Centre, has already raised £700 sponsorship and hopes to get this to £1,000. “By the time I get home, the wife says I’ll stink,” he joked. “I’m taking plenty of deodorant.”

Anyone wanting to sponsor Bob can call (0191) 5879904.