December 10 2013 Latest news:
by Michael Allen
Sunday, November 3, 2013
A smoothie seller in Exmouth Market who charges passers-by for directions has raised more than £1,200 for the hospital which saved his life as a child.
Jimmy Roche, 72, asks lost people to pay 10p for his expert knowledge on the area – where he has lived all his life – and donates all the money to Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH).
Even in an age of smartphones with GPS mapping software, Mr Roche, of ??, has managed to raise a total of £1,230 over four years.
The trader, who even hangs a sign on his stall reading: ‘No money, stay lost’, has been raising money for the hospital in various ways since 1989 and calls it “the best charity in England”.
His affection for GOSH stems from the treatment he received there during his childhood after he was knocked down aged seven by a black cab in Theobald’s Road as he walked to school with his sister. He sustained a serious head injury and was in hospital for a year – including six months spent in a coma.
Although he remembers nothing about the incident, when he recovered his family told him how well he had been looked after by hospital staff and he has been grateful to them ever since.
He said: “The facilities that they’ve got there are the best in the world. All my family think so as well. They do everything for everyone. Whatever nationality it is, they bring them in and they help them out.”
“I’ve still got the scar on my head where I had the operation done,” he said.
Most passers-by share his enthusiasm for the facility and often offer to give more than 10p, but his fundraising tactics have angered some.
“Some people say ‘I don’t wish to give to your charity - I’ve got my own’ or ‘I think you are disgusting putting signs up like that’.”
But he refuses to let them get the best of him.
“I don’t take no notice of what they say. I just ignore them.”
He added: “I’ve always had a positive attitude for Great Ormond Street.”
The biggest single donation he has ever received was £20. Mr Roche has also started raising money for Help for Heroes and has collected over £16 so far.