Dedicated Dougie Mac volunteer Barry Bailey is hoping to reach a £380,000 milestone of donations for the hospice over the Christmas period.
The 79 year old from Hanley, has been volunteering for around 19 years. Barry retired when he was 54 years old, and he still recalls seeing an advert in the Sentinel for volunteers and since then he has been on an overwhelming journey.
“I have collected in practically every supermarket in Stoke on Trent for Dougie Mac, and the generosity of the people is just unbelievable,” he said.
As well as collecting donations Barry has also supported by driving the hospice ambulance, gardening, being a driver for patients and helping with maintenance tasks over the years.
Barry took on the spot of the ‘Tin Can Man’ John Leese in intu Potteries Centre, after he retired from the role, and has been astounded by the response he gets each week.
“Doing this helps to keep me young and active, and some of the people I have met have been just incredible.
Barry starts around 9:15pm and he is outside Vision Express until around 4:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays collecting donations for the hospice up until the New Year.
“The staff from Vision Express bring me drinks and treats, I put on around 3 stone when collecting,” he joked.
“Stoke on Trent people are just fantastic, and although I thank them for the money they donate they can’t thank me enough for being there.
“During the Christmas period I’ve raised £3,500, so I’m hoping to go beyond £380,000 before the end of the month.”
Barry puts his determination to continue collecting for Dougie Mac down to the ‘inspirational’ patients at the hospice.
“The uplift I get from the patients is just unbelievable they just inspire me to do everything I do for the Dougie Mac.”
Barry recalled a time when he was caught with egg on his face, as he brought a patient into the Day Therapy Unit who was a Hartlepool United fan.
“I joked with him as they had lost 9 games on the bounce and said, ‘If they win their next game I will come to the Dougie Mac in a full Stoke City kit’, and well they won the next game and I felt a right fool.”
“But this was all part of the banter I have had with the patients.”
One of Barry’s closest friends was also treated at the hospice, and before he passed on he told Barry,
‘Carry on doing the good work for Dougie Mac, just for me.’
“My family know while I’m doing this that I’m healthy and happy. My wife and my two children have been incredibly supportive of me.”
Barry also had a special mention for the youngsters of the city, who he told us,
“They give me their last penny, they are absolutely amazing.”