UK

Fridge doors: What does yours say about you?

Tony Lloyd with his magnets in 2016 Image copyright Tony Lloyd
Image caption Retired teacher Tony Lloyd started collecting magnets in 1987. About 600 were given to him by his pupils

Tony Lloyd's compulsion for collecting fridge magnets has seen him amass up to 5,000 mementoes in his home.

The retired teacher started collecting them in 1987 while on a exchange trip to Australia and now they dominate three rooms in his house.

His passion was even passed on to his students, who would bring back magnets from holidays for him.

The 64-year-old from Cardiff says he can remember the story behind each one and which pupil gave each magnet.

'That's priceless'

Mr Lloyd, a father of two from Rhiwbina, reckons his collection was bolstered by about 600 thanks to the pupils' efforts.

He used to display the magnets on the walls of his primary school in Cowbridge.

Image copyright Tony Lloyd
Image caption The collection contains magnets from at least 100 countries but Mr Lloyd could not find one in Mozambique

"I've a primary school teacher's mind and for most of them I remember the child who gave it to me and the story behind it," he says.

"Parents would say the [purpose] of the holidays was finding a magnet for Mr Lloyd. I had that story half a dozen times, whether it was the Greek islands or New York."

And when he was presented with the gift?

"I always treated every magnet as if I was enthralled by it.

"It wasn't the magnet but the thought behind it. Those kids remembered and bothered and that's priceless and shows mutual respect."

Image copyright Tony Lloyd
Image caption Tony Lloyd quickly ran out of space on his fridge

He was inspired to start the collection when he saw the fridge of an Australian couple who had picked up magnets during a year's travel around their country.

Mr Lloyd was able to cover his fridge after spending a year in Australia on his exchange trip. Most of his magnets are now displayed on steel panels.

'An abomination'

The keen traveller has discerning tastes, preferring geographically informative souvenirs.

"I wouldn't buy anything cheap or tacky like animals dressed up or boiled eggs.

"In Windsor and London they have teddies dressed as kings and queens. It's an abomination," he jokes.

Image copyright Tony Lloyd
Image caption Mr Lloyd was given a special collection by a stranger he met when travelling in the US

On one occasion 30 were given to him in an unexpected way.

"I met a guy on the way from Detroit to New York and he told me his wife had recently died.

"We got talking about my magnets and he said his wife had had quite a collection."

Six months later a package arrived in the post, the postage costing $17 (at today's rates £13.60), he says.

"He wanted the magnets to go somewhere special. She had collected Broadway shows - Jersey Boys and Chicago.

"He said 'You've obviously got a passion'. I felt very touched by that."

US record holder

Asked why he does it he says "It's a typical male compulsive disorder. I collect full-size flags as well."

And what do his friends make of it? "They think it's slightly eccentric. It's a talking point."

The world record for the largest collection of fridge magnets is held by Louise J Greenfarb from Las Vegas.

She has 35,000 non-duplicated fridge magnets that she has been collecting since the 1970s, according to Guinness World Records.

Mr Lloyd, who is retired, teaches English as a foreign language and is a tour guide, and does not expect he will ever match that achievement.

But his next trip abroad will take him to his 101st international destination, the Maldives. He racked up his 100th, Cuba, last year.

And there are no prizes for guessing what he will bring home.