Laurie’s Autograph Collection

Laurie’s Autograph Collection Was A Wonderful Legacy

Getting a signed book or piece of memorabilia from one of your heroes is quite special but for Laurie Butcher, collecting autographs from the rich and famous was his life’s work.

For 64-years Laurie gathered signatures from actors, sporting legends, musicians, presidents and Prime Ministers. He even had the first men in space, on the moon, and to climb Everest! His collection was astonishing.

Before he passed-away in 2018, Laurie, who lived in Totteridge, asked his step-daughter Carole Dukes, to sell his collection and donate the proceeds to North London Hospice, in thanks for the care we provided to his late wife Jenny.

The Collection

“Of course I agreed but the enormity of the task didn’t hit me until I walked into the room where he stored his autographs after he had died,” said Carole.

“There were 7,500 signed theatre programmes, 23 albums of signed photos, two big crates of signed photos, 243 autograph books and five shelves of signed biographies and autobiographies.

“He clearly had the patience of a saint as he waited, sometimes hours, sometimes days, for whomever it was he wanted the autograph of. For Laurie, it was all about meeting the person and he never sold a single one in all those years. Some people he met several times, when they appeared in different plays and musicals. He became quite friendly with many. Judie Dench was a favourite. Some even attended his Celebration of Life last year. He was such a lovely, kind, gentle man.”

So who was among Laurie’s collection of signatures?…..
John Lennon & Yoko Ono, Neil Armstrong & Buzz Aldridge, Edmund Hilary, Artist Salvador Dali, Elizabeth Taylor & Richard Burton, All the James Bond girls, baddies & 007s, Bill & Hilary Clinton….. the list is seemingly endless.

“He had every Prime Minister since the war, except Teresa May, and told a wonderful story about how he achieved the signature of grumpy old Winston Churchill. He was there outside his front door before breakfast in the pouring rain and Churchill strode past him and got in the car. His wife was with him at the time. He waited all day in the rain and when they returned in the evening and Churchill was about to walk past him again, his wife demanded he sign for the poor man who had stood in the rain waiting all day. And he did!”

He travelled the world, seeking out scribbled prints at any opportune moment. “He was in Washington on October 24, 1983, with his friend Terry. They were walking behind the White House when they saw Henry Kissinger. He said goodbye to someone then was completely alone so Laurie and Terry seized their chance and asked for an autograph. He was quite happy to oblige. The next day began the American invasion of Grenada!”

Laurie’s Legacy

Laurie – an avid cricket and Arsenal fan – spent his career in the civil service, working in the VAT department in Finchley, where he met Jenny. They were married for 38 years. Jenny died in 2016 under the care of North London Hospice’s community nursing team and Laurie passed away last year aged 81 following a short illness.

Carole enlisted the help of Excalibur Auction House in Potters Bar to sell the bulk of the collection. There was interest from across the world and so far, over £50,000 has been raised that will be put towards funding patient care.

Carole added: “He was an amazing person and I think he and my mother will be looking down now, really delighted with what we’ve raised for the Hospice. They’d be thrilled.”

If you would like to leave a gift to North London Hospice please contact our Legacy Officer on 020 8446 2288 or email fundraising@northlondonhospice.co.uk

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