Injury ends Mike’s £20k charity recycling that started in Sidmouth

Gareth Hughes from the 1st Sid Vale Scouts, which received Dream-A-Way's donated trailer from Mike R

Gareth Hughes from the 1st Sid Vale Scouts, which received Dream-A-Way's donated trailer from Mike Rock - Credit: Archant

A dad-of-seven who collected the equivalent weight of 22 double-decker buses in waste paper to raise £20,000 for charity has been forced to wind the scheme down because of a back injury.

Mike Rock felt a twinge after he swapped his 260th tonne of paper at Devon County Council’s (DCC) recycling centre for a donation to Dream-A-Way. Following surgery, he is back on his feet, but his heavy-lifting days are over, and no-one has come forward to take over the collections.

Mike’s efforts accounted for a quarter of all magazines and newspapers recycled with DCC last year - and saw him dubbed him Devon’s ‘recycling king’.

“They started little and grew and grew,” said full-time carer Mike, whose family has benefited from respite with Dream-a-Way.

“I’ve been doing it five years, but for the last three I’ve been flat out, doing it four days a week. I’m a victim of my own success.”

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Reflecting on his injury, Mike, 51, said: “I did another tonne and when I got home my back was really sore. I couldn’t walk so I crawled to the surgery. The doctor said I’d trapped my sciatic nerve.

“It all happened really fast – I had an operation and by 2am I was walking round looking for a coffee.”

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Mike rested for a week and was soon back on his feet, but, with his children depending on him, he cannot risk damaging his back permanently.

Making the most of DCC’s recycling scheme, he collected from schools, hotels, travel agents and the Herald’s publisher, Archant, among many others. Mike raised the five-figure sum by collecting more than 260 tonnes of waste paper.

The tireless volunteer, who also chairs Sidmouth’s fundraising group for Dream-A-Way, said: “It’s a shame the collections had to stop, but unfortunately there’s no-one to take it on.

“I would like to say thank-you to everyone for supporting me and Dream-A-Way – we’ve had a terrific five years and raised a serious amount of money.”

A trailer donated to Dream-A-Way has been passed on to the 1st Sid Vale Scouts. Scouts chairman Gareth Hughes thanked the charity.

He said the scouts had always had to borrow a trailer in the past and that it would be put to good use.

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