Sheffield student raises over £2,000 for wildlife charity by selling her toys

Celebrity auctioneer James Martin during the final part of the auction at Holme HallCelebrity auctioneer James Martin during the final part of the auction at Holme Hall
Celebrity auctioneer James Martin during the final part of the auction at Holme Hall
A Sheffield student has raised over £2,000 by selling her toys at an auction in aid of wildlife charity Born Free.

Florence Billing, a pupil at Sheffield Girls’ School, sold her old Disney toys and Toy Story collectables and encouraged her dad Simon to shave his head to raise money for the Born Free Foundation, which works to protect threatened species in the wild.

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The 10-year-old, who lives in Barlow near Chesterfield, joined other schoolchildren from across Yorkshire and Derbyshire in an attempt to break the Guinness World Record for the longest continuous auction taken by a single auctioneer.

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Born Free founder Virginia MckennaBorn Free founder Virginia Mckenna
Born Free founder Virginia Mckenna

The 24-hour auction started at Bamford Auctioneers and Valuers, in Rowsley, Derbyshire, with lots pledged by the children as well as a host of celebrities including a signed guitar from Queen star Brian May, and a one off Moorcroft vase donated by Joanna Lumley.

Florence’s dad Simon Billing, who works at Bamford Auctioneers and Valuers, said: “Florence’s room was full of toys that she wasn’t playing with anymore. We normally take them to charity but she decided to put them into the auction and it is a good way of decluttering. There were hundreds of toys mainly Disney Stuff and Toy Story collectables such as Woody and Bullseye and other teddies.”

“All the children were very enthusiastic. In total Florence managed to raise £2,178 by selling her toys.”

Celebrity auctioneer James Lewis, who is CEO of Bamford Auctioneers and Valuers and a patron of the Born Free charity, headed up the auction.

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The event raised a total of £200,000 and culminated with an African themed garden party, hosted by Born Free founder Virginia McKenna, at Holme Hall in Bakewell.

In a moving and emotional speech the wildlife campaigner emphasised the faith she has in the children, who will continue their worldwide campaign to save and rescue animals, stop suffering, and protect rare species.

BBC presenter James Lewis praised the commitment and positivity displayed by the children on the run up to the event and during the auction.

He added: “Their passion, and understanding of conservation as a result of this project is fantastic; because whilst we’ve raised so much money for Born Free, even more importantly it’s been about inspiring the children to think about the planet first. This is the vision I’ve had from the beginning.

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“Their excitement, commitment and success in their fundraising has been something to behold. I feel privileged to have worked alongside such a great group of selfless, model global citizens.

Born Free now plan to roll out a national programme to educate children in schools about the challenges currently facing wildlife conservation on a global scale.

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