Meet Bob: The Hartlepool great-grandfather who makes bird houses to help local school

A Hartlepool great-grandfather was left disheartened when he thought nobody was interested in his hand-made bird houses – until a social media post rallied people around him.

Thursday, 20th January 2022, 4:45 am

Bob Collin, 84, has been making bird houses for years and says he stopped counting how many he has built after he finished the 500th one.

The houses don’t have specific prices and people can give as much money as they’d like, with Bob donating everything he gets to Springwell School, in Wiltshire Way.

The great-grandfather-of-four goes to his allotment in Chester Road every morning and makes up to six houses before he leaves at noon.

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Bob has vowed to continue making the bird houses as long as people are interested./Photo: Frank Reid

But low interest in the houses over recent weeks had left him disheartened.

Bob even put up a sign in the road, saying the boxes are for free and was “disappointed” when nobody came in.

Bob, who has worked in timber yards all his life and pays for the wood himself, said: "Not a soul came in.

"I was a bit disappointed. I just thought they’re not interested in them."

Bob Collin attaching a roof to a bird box he has built./ Photo: Frank Reid

But it all changed when Hannah Smith, 34, bumped into Bob last week.

They had known each other for around nine months and Hannah, who runs dog walking business Hollys Hounds and Felines, decided to share Bob’s story on Facebook.

The post was shared over 50 times and a number of companies and individuals went down to donate wood and building materials.

Bob, who does not use social media, has said he has been left surprised by all the support pouring in and is trying to catch up with demand.

Bob says he stopped counting how many bird houses he's built after he completed the 500th one./Photo: Frank Reid

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He had 14 boxes but says now “they’re nearly gone”.

The father-of-five said: "I’m happy to keep making them as long as people are interested in them.“

Widower Bob, who was married to late wife Margaret Collin for 60 years, continued: "It keeps me out of the house.

“It’s something that keeps me occupied."

He added: “I just tell them leave a small donation and I’m happy. Once I get to a hundred pound, I take it to Springwell School.”

Donations can be dropped off at Bob’s allotment at the top end of Chester Road.

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