Dick's decorative toytown winds up the neighbours

DICK DREW'S efforts to liven up a picture-postcard village by plastering his cottage walls with colourful cuddly toys is causing outrage in the sedate seaside community of Shaldon, near Teignmouth, in Devon.

Angry parish councillors have appealed, so far in vain, to Teignbridge district and Devon county councils to order Mr Drew to clean up his Edwardian brick house overlooking the village green. Mr Drew, 69, a widower from Ealing, west London, is equally determined that his collection of 500 Barbie dolls, pandas, penguins and sea-shore debris (including a pair of old walking boots) will stay.

Shaldon is proud of a cosmopolitan reputation that sets it apart from most West Country villages. It is known as Little Birmingham because so many of its inhabitants have retired there from the Midlands.

The standards of Black Country suburbia are proudly maintained: Spanish wrought-iron balconies, medieval front doors, hacienda storm shutters bolted to the walls and moulded concrete flower tubs.

Mr Drew's soggy outdoor museum is regarded as an affront to years of painstaking gentrification. Earlier this year, village leaders diverted 'Britain in Bloom' judges away from his crucified teddy bears in case it affected their chances. Since then, attempts to sabotage his collection have been made after dark.

'I came here five years ago and thought 'Cor, what a nice little place to retire',' Mr Drew says. 'I went straight down to the estate agents and done a deal.

'I used to go round the charity shops and bought a lot of teddy bears, the reason being I thought I was helping the charities. Then, of course, I got lots and lots and didn't know what to do with 'em, so I thought I'd hang 'em on the walls outside. Well, I thought it'd brighten the place up really.

'Then I started getting these letters from the parish council to remove them and, to be quite honest, I didn't. Next there was 50 dolls disappeared and chucked in the river. I also had handbags out there with flowers in 'em and they went at the same time.'

The next hijack victims were two enormous donkeys strung up under the eaves. Mr Drew composed a severely-worded notice board and stuck it up for the visitors' camcorders. It features a blood-soaked knife and says: 'Bring back my donkeys you Teignmouth men - or mice - or start looking over your shoulder when you are in Shaldon.'

He thought it went rather well with another notice, prominently displayed in his window, inviting local councillors to do something about unemployment 'instead of walking round the village finding faults and writing letters to me complaining about my house'.

David Postlethwaite, Birmingham-born parish councillor and a seafront guesthouse keeper, is not amused. 'We all thought it was a joke to start with but obviously it's not,' he said.

'Offensive's the only word I can think of about it. We were worried because this year we were in the 'Britain in Bloom' finals so obviously we did try to route the judges away from it in case we lost points.

'We tried a number of things to stop him, including the public health. He'd got some dangerous stuff up there, beer glasses in the roof, and we thought they'd fall down and hit someone.'

Mr Drew claims to have an influential ally in Sir Jimmy Savile, the television personality who runs a charity caravan for deprived children at Shaldon.

'He came round to look at it,' Mr Drew said, 'and I asked him 'What do you think, Jimmy?' He said 'Brilliant'. I said 'Some of the locals here don't like it' and he said, 'Tell 'em to piss off'. And that's just what I'm doing.'

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: HP Technical Support Analyst

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This rapidly expanding IT Manag...

Ashdown Group: Business Analyst

£400 - £500 per day: Ashdown Group: Business Analyst - Logistics/WMS - Immedia...

Ashdown Group: Junior Application Support Analyst - Fluent German Speaker

£25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

Ashdown Group: HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000

£34000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Bus...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable