Published Monday 14th November 2016

A 91-year-old Hospice volunteer will have more reason than most to celebrate the start of a new year.

Randy Langford has been collecting donation tins for St Michael’s Hospice in Bartestree for the past two decades.

And with sales of the popular Hospice Christmas badges adding to the total, he soon expects to pass the £300,000 mark collected for St Michael’s.

But Randy, from Mordiford, doesn’t plan to stop there.

‘I shall be very disappointed if I haven’t got to £300,000 by January,’ he said.

‘I’m then hoping to go on. I’m 91, pretty fit and I really enjoy it.

‘I meet so many lovely people. I always try to leave them with a laugh.

‘So many people know someone who has been to St Michael’s. People do appreciate that. They are very generous.’

At any one time, Randy has more than 200 Hospice tins in shops and workplaces across Hereford and Leominster.

He says customers at certain shops are particularly generous, including Stokes Stores and the Co-op on Holme Lacy Road.

Randy’s collecting journey began in the early 1990s, shortly after he and his wife, Mollie, had returned to Herefordshire having run a successful fruit business near the New Forest.

The couple were at a whist drive when Randy was asked whether he had considered getting involved with St Michael’s.

John Caiger, from the then-Development Trust, called him the next day and invited Randy in to see him.

‘I told him I can’t type, didn’t use a computer and couldn’t do shorthand. But what I was good at was talking,’ he said.

Randy was asked whether he would be interested in picking up collection tins from shops and workplaces – an offer he accepted.

‘There were about 20 tins to start with,’ he said.

‘The first place I went into, the tin was out the back with nothing in it. The next place the same, so I took them away.

‘In total, there were about five empty tins at first. I phoned John, told him things weren’t good, and asked if I could use my initiative and take the tins into some new places, which he agreed to.

‘So I felt my way, then went into Ledbury, Leominster, Kington, Hay, and into Newent and Dymock.’

Mollie sadly died in 2002, leading to Randy calling a halt to his collecting for about 18 months.

To date, he has collected £289,000 for St Michael’s Hospice from the tins and the sale of items such as the Christmas badges.

Although Randy now covers Hereford and Leominster, other volunteers pick-up the tins in the rest of the county.

‘People like Randy are the backbone of St Michael’s Hospice,’ said the Hospice’s Director of Income and Marketing, Ruth Denison.

‘He has physically collected and brought almost £300,000 into the Hospice over many years.

‘His enthusiasm and dedication to the cause is quite an inspiration.’

Anyone interested in keeping a collection tin at their shop, business or place of work should call St Michael’s Hospice on 01432 851 000.