‘It can get quite surreal’ – Ring Pull Man on two years of awareness raising in Tunbridge Wells

'It can get quite surreal' - Ring Pull Man on two years of awareness raising in Tunbridge Wells

He may not have any super powers but a caped crusader says his own mission has changed the lives of hundreds of children.

In two years Ring Pull Man says he has collected an estimated one million drink can tops from businesses, schools and clubs around Tunbridge Wells

Ring pulls are sent to the Philippines, where they can be turned into jewellery and sold by the charitable Purple Community Fund [PCF].

This has allowed 1,600 children who would otherwise have worked on rubbish dumps to attend a school established by the charity.

Ring Pull Man, who would not disclose his age or personal details, said: “People have been very supportive and it is making a difference.”

PCF founder Jane Walker confirmed his efforts were making a difference and estimated that each ring pull was worth around 3p.

This means that if the hero had collected 1million ring pulls, the financial equivalent would be £30,000.

“Ring Pull Man has never collected money,” the superhero continued. “I am close to collecting one million ring pulls, they are made into crafts and go to children in the Philippines.

“It is trying to find people who are in all sorts of suffering all around the world, and people of Tunbridge Wells have been very supportive.

“The word manic would sum it up with the interest I have had, there is little rest as there are so many things I am being asked to do.

“[The project] has become a full time job on top of my full-time job.”

Since launching the scheme in summer 2015, the masked man has become a regular sight on a motorised unicycle around town.

But his efforts have come at a personal cost.

“I am self-funding the project, and so far it has cost £40,000,” continued Ring Pull Man, who refers to himself in the third person in conversation.

“I am onto my thirteenth motorised unicycle as if you have an accident you can smash it up in one go.”

Now in 2018 he is back to full health after an accident caused him an injury which ruled him out of collecting ring pulls and threatened to reveal his identity.

Describing the incident in November, he said: “I was going on the inside of stationary traffic and just as I was going past a driver he veered to the left and I was trapped alongside the kerb.”

Ring Pull Man did not want to disclose the injuries he sustained other than that he broke a bone. He said he decided not to swap details with the driver who crashed into him, fearing this could reveal him.

“I did not exchange any details as it would have given me away. I went to hospital for x-rays and heard the news of the break,” he added.

The crusader said he was unable to put a monetary value on what he had done but he said he preferred to raise awareness rather than raise money.

He continued: “All the police in Tunbridge Wells are supportive, they are pulling me over all the time for a photo and when I go out I am always getting selfie requests.

“But I am really not into being famous. I have no intention of ever letting my identity out as it would spoil it for the children.

“My parents know now but for a while my father used to ask me about it and did not know it was me. People can talk about it though with me and not realise, which can get surreal.

“Trying to get out without being seen is a challenge but I have secret methods.

“I never used to dress up and I have never bought a comic book. I don’t want the attention but I just know how to communicate with people.

“I don’t take myself too seriously. It is making a difference and it means the children can get involved.”

PCF founder Ms Walker said Ring Pull Man had asked if he could help raise awareness, which she was supportive of.

She said: “He spoke to me about it but the first thing I heard of it was when he was in the newspapers.

“He has been amazing, and has raised tonnes of ring pulls over the years. His work has also raised awareness of what we do.”

She said ring pulls are shipped over to the Philippines for free in an agreement with a cargo firm.

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