Hull's Bee Lady 'who brought joy into people's lives' dies at the age of 99

Tributes are pouring in following the death of Hull's Bee Lady Jean Bishop at the age of 99.

Never to be forgotten: Hull's Bee lady Jean Bishop

Over two decades Mrs Bishop worked tirelessly raising £125,000 for Age UK dressed in an eye-catching bee outfit - and in the process attracting a swarm of fans.

Despite suffering severe arthritis, until a few years ago she collected in shopping centres in the city whatever the weather every other Friday, and visited residential care homes regularly.

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Her fundraising began in her seventies, when she started going to a "Knit and Natter" group at Age UK, following the death of her husband Cliff, who she married in 1947.

When a fundraiser from the charity saw a bee outfit displayed in a London shop window, she decided to hire it and ask Jean to try it on and go out with a collecting tin.

It was an instant success but it became too expensive to hire so her daughter Jennifer Baldwin made her one out of “cheap fur and hula hoops.”

In 2018 she told The Yorkshire Post her costume was beginning to get a little tired: “The children grab me and stroke the fur. I am dreading it falling to bits.”

By then she had racked up numerous awards and gained national attention, helping raise awareness of the charity and supporting its numerous initiatives.

Jean Bishop who raised £125,000 for Age UK dressed as a bee

She was an Olympic torchbearer in 2012, when she completed a leg of the relay in east Hull, but said she'd have to walk slowly because her knees hurt.

The following year she was crowned Pride of Britain fundraiser of the year; in 2017 she became only the second woman ever to be awarded the Freedom of Hull. A British Empire Medal followed in January 2018.

In July 2018 a new health centre looking after the needs of Hull’s most frail, elderly residents is opened, was named in her honour, the Jean Bishop Integrated Care Centre.

She told The Yorkshire Post being a bee had helped as she has got older. “If I wasn’t a bee what on earth would I do?” she said. “I would just sit and wither away.

“What pleasure in life is there? You can only do so much crossword and knitting."

Council leader Daren Hale said Mrs Bishop was a "formidable fundraiser for the city and someone who brought happiness and joy with her fundraising activities."

Former council leader Steve Brady said she was "loved by everybody in Hull", adding: "It is sad, but she lived a long and fruitful life and is well respected for the work she did.

"She was a thoroughly decent human being."