A local schoolboy has raised hundreds of pounds for hospice care by following in his grandad’s footsteps and making and selling bird boxes for charity.
Nine-year-old Ned Driver, from Long Marston, has donated more than £600 to The Hospice of St Francis, in Berkhamsted, where his grandad, Jeff Norwood, was cared for before he died.
Jeff, who was interviewed for the BBC World Service’s The Why Factor during his stay at the Hospice in early 2017, was a skilled carpenter who built bird boxes and gave them away as raffle prizes in aid of the Hospice. He passed on his talent to young Ned, teaching him how to make the creature homes and leaving him his tools when he died.
“When I got my Grandad’s tools, I thought by carrying on building the bird boxes, it would be a good way to continue his work,” Ned explained.
“When Grandad was in the Hospice he had one of the boxes he’d made outside his room and he enjoyed watching the birds as they came and went.
“While he was there, I found out that it costs more than £5million each year to run the Hospice and how much it would have cost to look after Grandad for the seven weeks he was there. I wanted to do something to help and thought this would be a good way to raise money.”
Ned, a pupil at Long Marston Primary School, now spends much of his spare time making a variety of bird boxes to suit different species of bird and has even branched out into insect hotels.
He will be selling his bird boxes at the Grand Opening of the Myeloma UK garden, which featured at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show and has been relocated to the Hospice. Tickets for the event on Sunday 16th September are available at www.stfrancis.org.uk/chelseagarden
“Grandad was very specific about the design of the boxes. Robins, for example, like to have a box with an open front so they can spot if any predators are coming, while others like to have smaller holes at the front of the box for safety,” Ned said.
Ned, who researches the design of the boxes online, has so far made more than 50 bird boxes, which he sells at local craft fairs. He has recently been commissioned to design and build a barn owl box and has even built a dog kennel.
Ned’s mum, Ali Driver, said that like her father Jeff, Ned has always had a gift for carpentry.
“Ned has been able to use a screwdriver since he was around 10 months old. He’s very capable and has always had a good eye for working with wood. My father was very exacting when it came to carpentry and he thought Ned had a talent,” she said. “Ned was very close to his grandad so it’s lovely to see him continuing his work.”
Lucy Hume, Head of Community Fundraising at the Hospice, said: “It’s fantastic to see Ned use his carpentry skills to help raise funds for the Hospice, particularly as he is only nine-years-old.
“We’re so grateful to Ned for giving up his precious time to craft and sell his bird boxes for the benefit of the Hospice. It’s only with such amazing support from our community that we are able to help people to live their precious lives well.”