A GRANDAD from Woolston has raised £2,500 for the emergency services after his lockdown project making wooden pigs became a huge hit with the community.

Jeff Stephens, 72, has created more than 250 pigs since April in return for donations, with Woolston residents naming him a 'hero' for putting a smile on their faces during a difficult few months.

The project began when Jeff realised he wouldn't be able to see his grandchildren during lockdown.

Son-in-law Stephen Sherlock explained: "He decided one day to make a wooden pig during the Covid-19 pandemic as he was missing his grandchildren and thought it would be nice to place it in Woolston Park for them and all the other children in the Woolston area to see.

"Unfortunately, this wooden pig was stolen so Jeff decided to make another pig, this time securing it to a fallen tree, along with a model of a stick man and a bumblebee that he had also made.

"To his disbelief, a few days later Jeff found that the second pig had been taken and the rest of the models had been vandalised."

Warrington Guardian:

Stephen's wife, and Jeff's daughter, Miranda, posted on a Woolston Facebook Group about the upsetting act, and the family was amazed at how many people said the pig had cheered them up while walking through the park.

"So, it was decided that no more would be placed in the park, and Jeff would make some if the people of Woolston wanted one for a donation to the Fire and Ambulance Service at Birchwood, as myself and my wife are paramedics working for the North West Ambulance Service," said Stephen.

Warrington Guardian:

"The response went crazy with more than 200 people ordering - with this amount it was decided that all the names would be put into a draw with so many drawn out to ensure as many people as possible could get the chance to own one."

More than 250 pigs later, Jeff has held two auctions, live on the Woolston Facebook Group, and two raffles.

Daughter Miranda added: "Because the pigs had been pinched from the park, my dad donated some to all the schools in Woolston for the children.

"We also did a 'nominate a key worker' to win a massive pig.

"He chose four key workers in the end and one of the ladies who came out was a care worker from a nearby nursing home, so she decided to donate hers there.

"It's really brought the community together."

Despite being busy making the wooden pigs, Jeff has also been working hard delivering the Warrington Guardian newspaper around Padgate and Woolston.