Plaque dedicated to charity champ is covered by For Sale sign

Big Hec plaque covered by a For Sale board
Big Hec plaque covered by a For Sale board

A South Tyneside resident has been left angered after a plaque dedicated to the memory of charity champ ‘Big Hec’ has been covered by a For Sale sign.

John Watson says he was disgusted when he spotted a board by estate agent Colin Lilley had been placed over a plaque dedicated to Brian Dowson.

Big Hec Brian Dowson.

Big Hec Brian Dowson.

Best known in the town as ‘Big Hec’, he raised what was an estimated £1million pounds for good causes throughout the 80s and 90s.

He died in 1996, aged 38, after collapsing at South Tyneside District Hospital.

An inquest heard he had fallen victim to adult sudden death syndrome – the adult form of cot death.

A plaque was placed on the former Lloyds Bank building in Laygate, South Shields, in recognition of his charitable efforts.

He done a lot for the people and good causes in South Tyneside.

John Watson

However, the plaque has now been hidden by a For Sale sign placed on the building.

Mr Watson said: “Big Hec was one the biggest fundraisers there was in South Tyneside, and this was reflected by a plaque being dedicated to him.

“It’s not right and I feel it’s disrespectful that a board has been placed over a plaque dedicated to his memory.

“You wouldn’t go and place a board over a headstone.

“He did a lot for the people and good causes in South Tyneside.”

Big Hec was well-known throughout the borough for his charitable work.

At 6ft 6ins tall and with size 16 shoes, he would collect cash in a big bucket.

Among the charity champ’s achievements was taking part in a series of sponsored walks in aid of hospital charities.

Among the other good causes he supported were South Tyneside Animal Rescue, the baby unit at South Tyneside District Hospital and the RAF Association.

He even staged a party to bring some cheer to homeless men at a hostel in High Lane, Hebburn.

The champion fundraiser even released a song, a cover version of These Boots Were Made For Walking, as part of another one of his fundraising drives.

The gentle giant also mixed with the stars, meeting glamorous actress Stephanie Beacham, star of TV’s The Colbys, at the height of her fame in 1986.

And in the late 90s playwright Barry Stone wrote a stage play, with the help of his family and friends, about the giant charity collector.

No one was available for comment from Colin Lilley.