Former Pride of Britain winner who raised £125k for charity in bee costume dies aged 99

Jean Bishop, who was known as Hull’s Bee Lady, was an icon in her town for dressing up as a bee to collect money for Age UK – she has met the Queen and has an out-of-hospital care centre named after her

A former Pride of Britain winner who raised more than £125,000 for charity has died aged 99.

Jean Bishop, who was known as Hull’s Bee Lady because she dressed up as the insect to collect money for Age UK, died peacefully on October 3.

In 2017, she received the freedom of the city and was awarded a British Empire Medal in the New Year Honours.

At the time she was asked if she would retire and said: “There isn’t such a word.”

Jean, who was born in Lincs. before moving to East Yorks. when she was young, was just a few months shy of her centenary.

She was known for dressing up in her bee costume and rattling her charity box throughout Hull to raise money for Age UK.

The bee costume came about when borrowed it from Age UK and realised her distinctive outfit helped raise a lot of money.

Jean later had her daughter make her bee costume with hula hoops and charity shop fabric.

Speaking in 2017 about her work, she said: “I didn’t want to put the costume on at first, but when I did it went down like a bomb.”

In the same year, she was recognised by the Queen for her dedication to helping others less fortunate than herself.

As she received her medal, the monarch asked Jean why she wasn’t wearing her trademark outfit.

She replied she would, but it would have meant she “would have had to have paid for two seats on the train”.

In 2013, Jean was recognised as Fundraiser of the Year at the Pride of Britain Awards, with a bee suit-clad David Walliams presenting her with the award.

In 2018, she opened the Jean Bishop Integrated Care Centre, which provides out-of-hospital care for older people in Hull.

The centre, which opened during the week the NHS celebrated its 70th birthday, was named after her to recognise the impact she had made in her home city.

She was only the second woman to be granted the freedom of Hull, following anti-apartheid campaigner Helen Suzman in 1987, and was also celebrated in board game form.

Pam Morgan-Davies, CEO of Age UK Hull, said Mrs Bishop was a “complete one-off”.

She said: “She was groundbreaking, both in the way that she fundraised and how she made people of all ages feel comfortable.”

“The number of people who remember putting money in her tin when they were little, then they would come up with their kids or their grandkids and say, ‘I used to give you money when I was little’ – she loved that.”

Karl Turner, Labour MP for East Hull, paid tribute to the “bright and bubbly woman”.

He wrote: “I am deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Jean Bishop at the age of 99 this morning.

“I had the honour of opening the Jean Bishop Centre with her a few years ago. She was a bright and bubbly woman and leaves behind an incredible legacy in our city. Rest in peace Jean.”

You can make a donation to Jean’s chosen charities and share your own memories and tributes to Hull’s very own Bee Lady and view her funeral notice