Penguin Place Customer is Simply “Great”

A GREAT grandmother’s passion for penguins has seen her amass a staggering collection of memorabilia and keepsakes. Hartlepool’s Marguerite Gant brought her first penguin ornament 35 years ago – and her love of all things black and white snowballed from there. The self-confessed “mad penguin lady” has spent hundreds of pounds on her 3000 plus-strong collection but the majority is brought for her from loving family and friends.  These pictures reveal just the tip of the iceberg as the mum-of-five’s flat at Anchor Court, on the Headland, is jam-packed with penguins. Every nook and cranny of her flat is crammed with ornaments, toys, T-shirts, slippers, dressing gowns, paintings, pillows, jewellery – and even a coffee table. Marguerite also eats her dinner of a penguin plate, drinks her tea out of a penguin mug and the bathroom is filled with black and white mats and robes.The memorabilia has come from all over the world including Spain, France and Australia, where Marguerite got up close and personal with dozens of penguins.  But, in recent years Marguerite has taken to the internet where she found Penguin Place to fill her penguin cravings and have her penguins waddle across the Atlantic to her.  The 80-year-old retired barmaid, who is originally from Bradford, told the Mail: “It all started 35 years ago when I popped down to the shops at Northgate and spotted this pair of penguins in a shop front. “I went in to buy them and it has really just snowballed from there. Whenever my family and friends go anywhere they always buy me something penguin-related. “I’ve had them from all over Europe and even Australia. I was over there last year and a family friend took me on a boat trip off Sydney to a little island. “We were paddling at the seafront and dozens of tiny penguins started hopping out of the sea. It was wonderful. “I love everything about them, they are just so cute. There is just something about them.”Everyone knows about my love of penguins and they all call me the mad penguin lady of the Headland,” joked the keen bowler, who represents Hartlepool Ladies Club. Marguerite, who has 10 grandchildren and nine great grandchildren, is mum to Ralph, 57, Christopher, 53, Michael, 48 and David 47. Her second eldest son Andrew died of a brain haemorrhage at the age of 35. Her husband Ralph died five years ago at the age of 84. The pair had been happily married for 53 years. Marguerite, who enjoys visiting penguins at zoos, is looking forward to adding to her collection when she celebrates her 81st birthday on November 14. She added: “Buying me a birthday or Christmas present is never a problem and I will no doubt get dozens more penguins in a couple of weeks. My friends and family think it is great but people do get a bit of a shock when they pop in.”

 

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