Pensioner's offbeat hobby

MORE offbeat than on the beat is probably the best way to describe Danny Schuurman's magnificent obsession.Accumulating almost 1,300 American police badges has something of a passion for the Martlesham Heath pensioner.

MORE offbeat than on the beat is probably the best way to describe Danny Schuurman's magnificent obsession.

Accumulating almost 1,300 American police badges has something of a passion for the Martlesham Heath pensioner.

The former bookbinder has been so keen to build his collection that he has handwritten more than 2,000 letters to law enforcement agencies across the United States.

In addition to the patches, which have taken eight years to amass, the 72-year-old has also been sent a police jacket, FBI mugs, pens and caps, along with more T-shirts than he knows what to do with.

Mr Schuurman said: “It started when I was watching television and there was a programme on called Cops. I thought it was very interesting and the lovely badge the policeman was wearing struck me.

“So I wrote off to the commanding officer of the Arkansas State Patrol and asked could I have the patch the young officer was wearing. A month to six weeks later I got a letter back with the badge, and that started me off.

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“Then a girl, who works in the police office in Arkansas, sent me a pamphlet with the state patrols in, so then I was really away. I wrote to every one, asking them for badges. Ninety-five per cent of them replied and sent something back. I've now got a patch from all the state police in America.

Mr Schuurman said he has made many new friends in the police departments across the US by continuing to correspond with them. Although virtually everyone is pleased to help, he added that persistence can sometimes be the key to success.

The OAP, who only visited America for the first time last year, said: “I have even written to the commissioner of police in California and got a beautiful letter back and a patch. After that we started writing to each other.

“I have got 1,280 badges and I imagine I would have written over 2,000 letters. I know a fellow in Ipswich who also collects badges, but he buys his. I get such pleasure doing it this way and have made so many friends. I'm really proud of my collection and I have got some lovely letters back.”

Mr Schuurman believes it helps that he always offers to send something from England as a trade for the patches.

His wife, Sandy, is happy to indulge her husband's continuing quest for even more police badges.

She said: “I like him to have something to do, because he's one of those people who doesn't like the idea of retirement. As long as it keeps him happy, it keeps me happy.”

Through the years, the avid collector has also built up other collections including 374 toy cars, a limited edition set of Observer picture books and a host of Second World War memorabilia.

Always on the lookout for a bargain, Mr Schuurman said: “People up here call me Steptoe. I look in skips for all sorts of stuff. I say to Sandy that I'm going to have a walk round and she says 'I wonder what you will bring back now?'.”

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