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Meet the Kettle chips worker who collects odd looking crisps for a hobby

PUBLISHED: 18:47 17 February 2011 | UPDATED: 18:47 17 February 2011

Heather Whiley, lead picker, checks the crisps at Kettle Chips factory at Bowthorpe, where she has worked since it opened 22 years ago.

Heather Whiley, lead picker, checks the crisps at Kettle Chips factory at Bowthorpe, where she has worked since it opened 22 years ago.

©Archant Photographic 2011

For many of us a crisp is just a tasty treat, but for a great-grandmother from Hellesdon, collecting them has become a unique hobby.

"They are always so perfect in shape and every time I see one I just burst into a smile because they make me feel happy inside."

Heather Wiley

It is Heather Wiley’s job to oversee the thousands of hand-cooked crisps which pass every hour under her gaze at the Kettle Foods factory on Barnard Road in Bowthorpe.

She then has to pull off the production line all the crisps which are misshapen, discoloured or stuck together, which is when her crisp hobby springs into action.

“I see, literally, millions of chips in all shapes, sizes and colours in the course of my working week on the production line at Kettle Foods,” she said.

“The heart-shaped ones, which are pretty rare, hold a special magic for me. They are always so perfect in shape and every time I see one I just burst into a smile because they make me feel happy inside. I cannot resist them and often pick them off the line and take them home to varnish so that I preserve them.”

The longest-serving employee at Kettle Foods, working for the firm for 23 years, she has a ledge under the picking line to put the oddly shaped crisps she wants to keep.

Other members of the production team also sometimes bring her heart-shaped crisps to add to her collection, which also includes human and animal-shaped crisps.

Of her collection she said: “I’ve seen all manner of weird and wonderful shapes in my time but nothing comes close to the heart-shaped ones in giving me a thrill whenever I see them – they’re very eye-catching.

“I must have been collecting them for over 20 years now.

“It all started because I spotted one and couldn’t believe how lovely it looked and then I just got hooked. Some people collect souvenirs and potted plants, I have my heart-shaped Kettle Chips.”

Do you have an interesting or unique hobby? Contact reporter Donna-Louise Bishop at donna-louise.bishop@archant.co.uk
or call 01602 772438.

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