Were these the strangest Bob A Job Week tasks ever in Hartlepool?

Some people washed cars. Others ran errands or helped with tasks around the house.

By Chris Cordner
Tuesday, 23 April, 2019, 11:23
Scouts in action in Hartlepool during Bob A Job Week.

But Bob A Job Week will stick in the mind of Hartlepool man Alan Wilderspin forever.

That’s because his job was a little out of the ordinary, to say the least.

He had to collect sacks of dandelion leaves. And not only did he carry out the task admirably, he even won an award for it!

Alan, now in his 80s, was a member of the 5th Hartlepool Scouts when he did his Bob A Job Week task around 70 years ago.

He still remembers it well.

“Hartlepool District Scouts was running a competition at the time for the best unusual jobs,” said Alan.

“There were prizes for the three winners.”

The big treat was a coach trip to Darlington to see the Gang Show, and on the way home, you would get a fish and chip supper.

“I won one of the prizes,” said Alan. “I had to go out into the fields with sacks, and collect dandelion leaves. I had to do it for a man who wanted to feed his rabbits.”

Amazingly, Alan’s task was probably not the most unusual of the three prizewinning jobs that year.

He remembered: “Another lad got a job collecting dirty nappies to be washed!”

Alan can’t remember what the third prizewinning job was, but he remembered the effect that collecting dandelion leaves had on him.

“My hands were green at the end of it!” he recalled.

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The first Bob-a-Job week was held in the UK in 1949 and continued until the 1990s.

Alan thinks the year that he won a prize might have been that very first Bob A Job Week.

He also remembered: “I spent 12 hours a day on that job but it was not too far from where I lived at the time. It was where Summerhill Park is but it was all open fields back then.

“In those days, you could roam the fields and no-one was bothered. I used to do potato picking as well.”

Alan has fond memories of his time in the Scouts and recalled when Cleveland Scouts used to have a ‘big international camp’.

The last one, he thinks, was held at Ripley Castle near Harrogate.

He also recalled the old Scout Master he had and he was called Harold Peacock.

Our thanks go to Alan who is a regular contributor to our Memory Lane features.

But what are your own memories of Bob A Job Week in days gone by. How much did you raise and was it a bob that you received for each job?

Do you remember having to go house to house to offer your services as a volunteer. Did you get any unusual jobs and which Scout troop were you a part of?

As one example, here’s a scene from 63 years ago showing the 40th Hartlepool Scout Group doing their own annual “Bob A Job” fundraising initiative.

What did you do to earn your shilling?

We would love to hear from you. To share memories, email chris.cordner@jpimedia.co.uk