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EN Original: The charity stalwart

PUBLISHED: 06:30 25 January 2010 | UPDATED: 07:41 02 July 2010

William Bradley has raised more than £130,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust

William Bradley has raised more than £130,000 for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust

When his granddaughter was diagnosed with an incurable disease, William Bradley gave up work to start a fundraising campaign to help pay for research into the illness.

When his granddaughter was diagnosed with an incurable disease, William Bradley gave up work to start a fundraising campaign to help pay for research into the illness. Now, more than 15 years later the 83-year-old has single-handedly raised more than £130,000 and shows no signs of slowing down. PETER WALSH reports.

He might be 84 but William Bradley wouldn't let a little thing like age stop him from going out on his weekly fundraising trips to supermarkets across the region.

This weekend like every weekend Mr Bradley, from Furze Road, Thorpe St Andrew, has been rattling his bucket in aid of cystic fibrosis at one of a number of supermarkets he visits in the hope of slowly adding to the thousands of pounds he has already raised.

He said: “When we found out one of my granddaughter's had cystic fibrosis, which is incurable, I decided to see what I could do for them.”

So it was that Mr Bradley, with bucket in hand, headed each and every week to supermarkets and DIY stores to collect money for cystic fibrosis research.

“I've raised £135,000 for them - it isn't too bad is it? I sometimes do Tuesdays and Wednesdays but mainly do weekends - Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I usually get there about 8.30am and leave at 4pm I just do what I can.”

In the past Mr Bradley has been a regular sight at the Tesco stores on Blue Boar Lane and Ipswich Road, but more recently has rotated between the Tesco stores at Stalham and Caister, the Waitrose in Norwich, and Morrisons stores at Fakenham and Beccles.

He said: “I said to them I would go and raise £100,000 for them in 10 years which I managed to do. I was going to pack it in but thought I enjoyed doing it and it all helps, so I got to £135,000 and will carry on for as long as I can. We'll say £150,000 and carry on from there - that's another £15,000 I've got to get.”

The father of three, grandfather of six, and great grandfather of five, said the recession has made fundraising a little more difficult, but that has not stopped him trying.

He said: “Money is getting a bit scarce now - where I used to get £1 I get 2p.”

Mr Bradley, who is originally from Pontefract in Yorkshire, came to the region in 1948 after being invalided out of the army after being involved in a train explosion in Palestine in 1947.

He said: “There were three electronically detonated bombs. The carriage I was in, the bomb didn't go off, but the other two did and it tore the train apart. When I came round I was in hospital and didn't know too much about it.”

After coming out of the forces, Mr Bradley settled in the city and did a number of jobs including a number of driving jobs and working as a builder for RG Carter in Norwich.

Mr Bradley then set up his own estate agents, William K Bradley in Sprowston Road, which he ran for a number of years before taking on a bar supplies business in Norwich, where he became known as “Mr Optic”.

But when his granddaughter Natalie was born with cystic fibrosis, the UK's most common life-threatening inherited disease which affects vital organs clogging them with mucus and making it difficult to breathe to digest food, Mr Bradley's life changed forever.

Since then he has given up work to concentrate on fundraising to help not only his granddaughter, but the thousands of other people across the country who suffer from the same illness.

His considerable efforts in the name of charity have earned him public recognition and in 2008 he was named Volunteer of the Year as part of the Evening News's Local Heroes Awards.

In January last year members of Mr Bradley's family, backed by former Norwich North MP Dr Ian Gibson, called for the pensioner's fundraising efforts to receive royal recognition in the form of an MBE.

Mr Bradley is yet to receive a gong, but he insists medals do not matter.

He said: “I'm not worried about medals - all I'm worried about is getting money. My granddaughter is who I do it for.”

Despite her illness Natalie, now 20 and who has been dancing since she was two, secured a place on a degree course in dance which she started last September.

She is currently studying for a Dance in the Community degree at University Campus Suffolk and teaches dance at Anglia Region Theatre School.

Who would you like to see as an Evening News Original? Email peter.walsh@archant.co.uk

Name: William Bradley

Age: 84

Lives: Thorpe St Andrew

Family: Wife Joan, three sons, six grandchildren and five great grandchildren

Job: Fundraiser

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