City’s fundraising bee woman buzzes off with top-flight prize

EVER since she started raising funds for charity dressed as a bee she has been creating a buzz.

Now, indefatigable Jean Bishop, who is 91, has been crowned “Pride of Britain fundraiser” of the year – and looks set to have broken through her target of £100,000 with the help of comedian David Walliams.

The “Bee Lady of Hull” – who was seen on ITV1 last night at a glittering awards ceremony hosted at London’s Grosvenor House,by Carol Vorderman, dons a home-made bumblebee outfit, including woolly yellow and black hat and antennae, when she goes out collecting for Age UK.

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A regular feature on the streets of her home city, she has been fundraising for 14 years, despite having arthritis, and a fall which once left her in hospital for a week.

Jean, who was due to be back in Hull this morning at the “knit and natter” group she runs on Wednesdays, said: “I just didn’t believe it – I thought everybody was pulling my leg – it hasn’t sunk in yet.

People shout out and say ‘hello Mrs Bee.’ Some people say they don’t really recognise me without my bee costume on.

“The amount of money I’ve raised has gradually crept up although I never dreamed it would reach anything like this.”

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Pam Davies, chief executive of Age UK Hull, said: “Jean’s funds have enabled us to develop our services across the city.

“She is an amazing person.

“She is so bright that she just blows away the stereotypes of older people that older people can’t do stuff or haven’t a sense of humour.

“We understand she and David Walliams went round the celebrities and collected a lot more money and we understand they have got another £10,000, which will take us to over £100,000.

But there is no sign Jean, one of the Olympic torchbearers in Hull last year, will be putting up her feet just yet.

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She said: “When I do get to £100,000, I will have a cup of tea, sit and think about it, then start again.”

Online commentators were full of praise for Mrs Bishop’s efforts.

One said: “What a remarkable woman and well deserves the award. Long may she reign!”, while another commented: “I have a tear in my eye every time I see this wonderfully altruistic lady. She is a true inspiration.”