Thursday, 10 February 2011

How to raise £627,000 for charity

64 year-old jeweller, Nicholas Mullings, has managed this amazing feat by sifting through packets of discarded trinkets in search of gold.

For 17 years, he has given up his Saturdays to sort out packets for the Alzheimer's Society. In an average year he will sort through 10,000 of them.

I met this remarkable man while filming in his shop near Westminster, where he has served Prime Minsters and film stars since 1965.

It's called the Old Jewellery Appeal. The idea came from the charity itself, but Nicholas gave it a vital twist.

"They wanted to ask for the good stuff," he tells me, "But I told them to ask for the plonk."

He shows me bags of unwanted bits and bobs, ready to be sorted.

There are a few interesting trophies. Nicholas hands me a little grey ball which is inscribed with "Kimberley Siege 1899-1900".

"It's probably a Boer bullet," he says.

Often, Nicholas clocks up 12 hours of work on a Saturday, hunting for gold to be melted down and sold. And sometimes he puts in a Sunday as well.

How does he manage it? Well, he makes plenty of spare time for himself - by being economical with sleep.

"I get up at 3.30am every day," he reveals, "And I'm in work before six during the week."

Pinned to the wall in the shop is a cheque from Mrs Thatcher. It's a funny one because the bank got its printing wrong, calling her Maragaret Lady Thatcher.

She's another one who never seemed to need any shut-eye.

Anyway, Nicholas's painstaking work has raised £627,610, so far. It's a wonderful achievement.

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