He is a purple man on a purple mission.
Purpleman has launched a campaign to raise £15,000 to buy soft toys for the children hit by war in Syria.
And the much-loved York resident says he may never return to his pitch on Stonegate as he devotes more time to helping the innocent victims of conflict.
Purpleman revealed to YorkMix ambitious plans to:
buy 15,000 toys to give to children in the war zone
deliver them in a purple bus
host a Christmas party on the Syrian border
open the first Purple School there to teach positivity and creative thinking.
New film released
Purpleman has set up an Indiegogo campaign to raise £15,000 in 21 days. He has sourced a supplier in Turkey and will be able to buy one toy per pound raised.
To help boost the appeal, he has released a film from his two previous missions to the Turkish-Syrian border, Love 3 War 0.
A moving watch, Richard J Tampion’s film shows the smiles and laughter Purpleman delivered along with the toys when he visited a school in Turkey’s Hatay Province, about 30 miles from Syria.
He said the children reacted “like they’d never seen a teddy bear before!”
He told us:
Once they knew why I was there it was hard not to be emotional – for all of us – children, parents, teachers and our volunteers.
Again, the power of a soft toy is immense – it can reduce grown men to tears and it did.
One million toys plan
On his previous missions, Purpleman has given out toys donated by people in York and beyond.
His new plan, to buy the toys in Turkey instead, could enable him to deliver 15K toys by Christmas, 100K by next March – and one million toys before July.
“I hated leaving children without a toy in January this year,” Purpleman explained; “so many millions of lost childhoods.
“There is much to be done as I am very convinced that this simple gesture can make a positive difference.
“We think of the gifts our children will receive at this time of year; these children don’t even have a soft toy to cuddle.”
Children who lost everything
Purpleman and his team met children who had lost everything due to the ongoing war in Syria.
All had forfeited their homes, he said – either because they had been destroyed or it was not safe to stay there. Most had lost relatives.
She was just dumped at the school but she is alive and thriving now.
I met one boy, aged four, who walked over to Turkey alone – parents and family all dead. He has a new best friend now – a soft toy.
Purpleman has booked his flight and will by leaving soon. An old bus has been sourced in Turkey and is being painted purple for the mission.
He will be delivering toys over the festive period and plans to host a children’s party on Christmas Day.
“I haven’t told my family I won’t be here for Christmas,” he said. “But this is way more important than personal indulgences.”
World’s first purple headteacher
His next big mission is to open at least one Purple School over there. A parallel funding campaign will raise money to buy a suitable building near the conflict zone, to be painted purple and refurbished.
The school will be free to all children with the focus on positivity.
We’ll have the world’s first purple headteacher! Staff will wear purple: it’s a positive colour for everyone to associate with.
His devotion to this cause may mean we have to get used to a Purpleman-free Stonegate.
He told YorkMix he is “not sure if PM will ever return to Stonegate/ Purplegate”.
Message for David Cameron
Two pictures drawn by Syrian children and given to Purpleman
The December mission will see Purpleman staying with Syrian refugees and also a “supportive Turkish family”.
“We will be moving around near the Syrian border, visiting camps, homes and schools.”
A man clad head-to-toe in purple driving a purple bus close to a war zone is likely to attract some attention.
Has he taken some advice and measures to keep out of danger?
The only advice I take is from my heart, so no contact has been made with any UK or other government. I trust the people who look after me and happily take advice from people who have been to the area themselves.
The news of his campaign breaks a day after MPs voted to allow British planes to bomb Isis targets in Syria.
His message to David Cameron? “Dave, come and join me, give me some love dude!
“Interestingly, I was PM years before DC; I wonder what would happen if we swapped jobs?”
And his wider message to the world:
Let’s bomb Syria – with toys!