EVERYONE of a certain age will know the name ‘Trolley Ted’.
A trip to Burton was not complete without a sighting of Ted Gibson returning stray trolleys to supermarkets for free.
However, he became a national sensation in 1997 after a supermarket giant barred him from returning its trolleys.
The former soldier, who was instantly recognisable from a long grey beard and grubby overcoat, was told by bosses at the then brand new Sainsbury’s store in Union Street that he was not allowed to collect for them anymore.
Mr Gibson never received any cash for returning any of the trolleys.
He was often handed gifts of grub and food vouchers.
But only two weeks after the new store opened he was told by bosses to leave its trolleys alone.
He told the Mail at the time: “A bloke came up to me and said I was not wanted any more.
“I only collected the trolleys for something to do and must have returned thousands over the years.”
The shock move saw a campaign launched to get Ted back on the trolleys.
Management at the store said it had received ‘more negative than positive comments’ about Ted’s activities and was simply responding to what customers wanted.
The matter drew national attention from a range of other newspapers and even made it onto several television channels.
However, ‘people power’ won out in the end and, after being inundated with messages of support for Ted, Sainsbury’s was forced to relent and bring him back into the fold.
A spokesman for the firm told the Mail at the time: “As a company we pride ourselves in listening to the views of our customers.
“Our actions locally have reflected these views and will continue to do so.
“However, having considered the opinions expressed by both our own customers and the wider public, we feel our original stance regarding Ted may have been hasty.
“So in the light of these views, and also recognising the public-spiritedness of Ted’s own voluntary actions, we are quite happy to see him collecting abandoned trolleys around the town centre and returning them to their owners, including ourselves, if he still wishes to do so.
“At no time did we intend to cause upset to Ted and we wish him well.”
Hundreds of people signed petitions to try to get Ted reinstated.
He said at the time: “I have met a lot of new friends, and lots of people gave me support.”
Ted continued to collect trolleys for many more years until he passed away in 2006.