A toy shop owner is hunting for the mystery man who crafted an incredible model of Blackpool Tower using nothing but matchsticks and glue.
Paul Jelley, managing director of Playtime UK Ltd in South Shore, was determined to become the proud owner of the four foot-tall replica when he saw photographs of it on social media in December.
He said: “I saw it being offered free to a new home – or it was going to go in a skip. Within minutes people were offering £20, £50, and £100 for it.
“In the end they decided to donate it to a charity and put it up for auction.”
Father-of-three Mr Jelley bought the model in an online auction led by Knott End mum Jill Maddison, 48, to help raise money for her local Community First Responders team, which saved her life after she suffered a cardiac arrest last year.
He said: “I placed a bid of £250 just five minutes before the deadline of the auction, knowing that the best time to bid was at the very last minute. I was willing to pay more if someone else came along and made a better offer, but luckily that didn’t happen.
I saw it being offered free to a new home – or it was going to go in a skip
“I was just absolutely amazed that someone had put so much time into it. I did some research and found out about some professional artists who have made matchstick models that have sold for around £20,000, so for me it was a no-brainer. It’s on display at work and people are just overwhelmed with the amount of detail it’s got - it’s a real ice breaker.”
The model tower was sold alongside an equally impressive matchstick replica of the Taj Mahal, netting a total of £300 for Mrs Maddison’s fundraiser, which will go towards buying first aid equipment to help the First Responders save even more lives. Now she and Mr Jelley say they are on the hunt for the matchstick architect who created it.
Mrs Maddison said: “It was given to me by a man who said it belonged to a local elderly gentleman who had recently died. I’m still trying to find out about him because I hear he did quite a lot of these matchstick models. But so far I have got no name, no address - nothing.
“I’m not going to give up the search and I’d really like to find the family so I could have a cup of tea with them and say thank you.”
Mr Jelley added: “It must have been made by someone with a lot of patience and free time. The scale is right, the shape is right, everything is as it should be.
“I want to find some more history to the piece and get a plaque made with the name of the person who made it, and if they have passed away it can be some sort of memorial to them.”
Mrs Maddison said: “The Tower brought in more than I ever expected. I got around 10 people bidding on it but Paul was interested in it even before the auction started. Somehow he knew about it before hand so he was keeping a close eye on it.
“I was amazed at how much the fundraiser brought in. I’m so grateful.”