A PROMISE made to his mother nearly 40 years ago has resulted in a prolific fundraiser collecting more than £200,000 for charities.

Dave Hedgecock, who is a freeman of the borough of Chelmsford, has just marked that milestone which has seen him collect cash for about 60 charities over the years.

The 73-year-old explained: “When my mother died in 1971, she left behind five friends in St Peter’s Hospital, in Maldon, where she had been.

“I became a Friend of St Peter’s and that really was the start of it all.”

Dave, who lives in Broomfield, was made a freeman in 1987 for his work within the community and is only one of a few to hold the honour.

In 1973 he joined Chelmsford Carnival Committee and sold programmes and draw tickets.

He soon became the highest collector, selling more than 3,000 programmes in later years.

Between 1978 and 1992 he completed 121 sponsored walks, raising just short of £98,000.

He was forced to give up walking because of health issues, but that didn’t stop him fundraising. Since then he has raised another £98,000 with door-to-door and supermarket collections, becoming a familiar face to shoppers in Chelmsford.

It was collecting for Marie Curie Cancer Care’s Great Daffodil appeal this year that he topped the £200,000 mark.

Dave, who has a collection of shields and certificates in celebration of his charity work, said: “I reckon I have collected for about 60 organisations over the years.

“The Salvation Army is first with around £22,000, followed by the Broomfield League of Friends at around £19,000 and then the Royal British Legion.”

Dave still plans to carry on.

She said: “It is my Christian faith that has helped me a lot over the years. I believe I have been called to do his work.”

He has kept a meticulous record of all his fundraising activities, detailing every amount he has raised and where it was collected.

Anne Hillion, community fundraiser for Marie Curie in Essex, said: “He has collected £2,298 for us between February and March, doing 15 collections. He has collected for us before.

“We want to say a huge thank you for all the time and effort he has put in. He is an absolute superstar.”

Patrick Bermingham, chairman of the mid Essex branch of Unicef, said he deserved “an official pat on the back”.

He added: “I have known Dave for 30-odd years and he regularly helps Unicef.

“I couldn’t believe what he has achieved.”