Mansfield man turns lockdown hobby into service to help people who can’t afford it

What started as a hobby during lockdown has turned into a community service run by a man from Mansfield Woodhouse. In 2020, Tony Price-Mear started making puzzles to keep himself busy during the pandemic. Because he liked them, he decided to continue doing more when he retired two years ago in 2022.

Now he has a huge collection of puzzles in his garage and what started as a trade between his friends has led to Tony opening up his collection to more people. Now everyone can come by to exchange, borrow or donate puzzles.

Tony said: “My wife Yvette’s mum and dad had a large collection of puzzles so I had them when they finished them. Then friends who knew I liked puzzles started giving them to me and I also bought them at thrift stores. This created a small collection for personal use.

“A few friends found out I was doing puzzles and we started trading as we finished them. The fun we had doing them made me think it would be fun to make it accessible to a wider group of people.”

Tony’s Community Puzzle Group is not run as a charity, with surplus puzzles distributed to local charity shops. He said: “The target group is anyone who enjoys puzzles in the local area. I’ve had care home staff swapping their home’s collection, a lady extending the service to her parents in Lincolnshire and a girl who loves unicorns.”

Tony says he does it because he is in the fortunate position of being able to do this. He said: “It gives something back to the community and it’s another interest for me since I retired. Jigsaws can be expensive and people cannot always afford them.

“I’ve met some lovely people who have come to swap, donate or borrow puzzles. I’ve had some people visit before and it’s nice to have a chat and see how much fun they have making jigsaws. Hopefully more people will use the service. If people cannot reach me, I will collect donated puzzles or take a selection from which I can borrow or exchange.”

Anyone interested in finding out more about Tony’s community puzzle scheme can contact him on 07743 558941.