A hoarder is selling off his bric-a-brac collection after an ultimatum from his wife. Leah Parker-Turnock meets Godfrey Bennett, whose shop is turning junk and jumble into life-saving donations.
Godfrey Bennett, retired electrician, school governor, founder of Beveridge Roller Dance and Figure Skating Club and collector-extraordinaire proves to be one of those special people who can brighten a day with just a few minutes of his time.
The 75-year-old of Newton Aycliffe is a bundle of enthusiasm, and so it is no surprise when he explains how he had to channel his abundant energy into another passion after hanging up his skates.
“Although I don’t think I’d be able to do the tricks and flips anymore it always stays with you, your love for something,” he says.
It was something of an ultimatum that set him on the course that brought him to where he is today. The main reason behind Godfrey choosing to sell his accumulated treasures was to save his marriage. He somewhat sheepishly talks of how his wife, Shirley, jokingly threatened him with divorce, unless he found a home for his multitude of titbits.
With those words ringing in his ears, Godfrey decided to rent out a room attached to his local church, St Clare’s, and transform it into a small charity shop, All Sorts.
“I thought divorce would be a bit messy,” he smiles. “You’ve got to do things, I’m not one of these people that can sit and just do nothing and I like helping people.”
All Sorts wasn’t set up as an earner for Godfrey, however. The money raised goes to the Tear Fund, The Capstone Project, the Great North Air Ambulance Service and his own church’s roof appeal.
Godfrey claims his extensive collection has become a haven for fellow hoarders and collectors.
All Sorts is open for the public from 10am to 1pm on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. The shop has been open for 16 months now and has had people from all walks of life coming to visit.
His treasure chest includes everything from board games to clocks, household appliances, vintage china and even a giant cuddly bumblebee named Buzz.
The collection dates back to when Godfrey was a child. He shows me an antique watch his parents gave him for his sixth birthday. Sadly the watch stopped working but the story and the memory of his parents remains.
“I’ve sold about £1,000 pounds worth of items for charity, which is pretty good considering how many items are less than one pound,” he says. “If you tell me what you’re looking for I’ll probably have it and if not it will either be in the garage or the spare room at home, which is still full of stuff.”
Godfrey proudly admits how he has had the radio, newspapers and a film crew coming to speak to him about All Sorts. “I’m surprised you didn’t want autographs,” he says with a smile and a wink.
The shop has proved to be a success, not least because it appears to have saved Godfrey’s marriage; the couple will this summer return to Llandudno, where they shared their honeymoon.