Charity Cowboy Mick Mee, who kidnapped the Mayor of Hackney, dies

PUBLISHED: 14:30 04 June 2013 | UPDATED: 14:31 04 June 2013

Mike Mee, the Charity Cowboy

Mike Mee, the Charity Cowboy


One of Mr Mee’s most notorious escapades was kidnapping Cllr Siddiqui Saleem when he was Mayor of Hackney in 1995.

A man reputed for his eccentric fundraising stunts like kidnapping the Mayor of Hackney and sitting in a bathtub of custard - which earned him the title The Custard Kid - has sadly passed away aged 88.

Known as the Charity Cowboy, Mick Mee and his Wild West posse used to be a common sight on Hackney’s streets, as they rattled their collection boxes for various charities.

One of Mr Mee’s most notorious escapades was kidnapping Cllr Siddiqui Saleem when he was Mayor of Hackney in 1995.

Cllr Siddiqui said: “Mick and his gang ambushed me in the Narrow Way and bundled me in the boot of a car, but it was all in good fun and we raised some good money for the hospice.”

He added: “Mick was an outstanding and inspirational man who brought joy and happiness to whoever he met in the name of charity.”

A spoof charity wedding in 2000 dubbed “Wedding of the Century” saw him get hitched to an 18-year old florist’s daughter, Nicola Smythe, dressed up as Albert Steptoe from the BBC sitcom, Steptoe and Son.

Other ingenious fundraising endeavours saw him dress up as footballer David Beckham, complete with a Mohican haircut and a football tied to one leg, running barefoot in fancy dress and taking part in a sponsored Baked Bean Eatathon

He once even accepted a challenge to be buried alive but the event was cancelled because of a bereavement in his family.

Fellow cowboy, Peter Coltelli, nicknamed The Colt Kid by Mick, said he really celebrated life and will be greatly missed: “He really put the ‘fun’ into fundraising and brought happiness to so many people.

“Mick was true to his photo, always jolly and smiling, a lovely man.”

Born in 1925 in County Roscommon on the west coast of Ireland, Mick moved to England as a young man, and repaired TV sets in the 1950s before setting up a pine stripping shop in Sylvester Road, Hackney Central.

He was voted the Hackney Gazette’s “Personality of the Year” in 1997, beating boxer Lennox Lewis, and awarded the MBE in 2003 for 40 years of charity fundraising.

Health Minister John Hutton, who presented Mick with the award on behalf of the Queen, said Mick had brought “fun and goodwill and fostered a community spirit in the East End, where there was a lot of poverty and deprivation”.

Mick passed away on May 4 of old age, and a cowboy hat was laid on his coffin at the funeral on May 23.

He leaves behind a daughter Patricia, grandchildren Robert, Nicholas and Melissa and great grandchildren, Couteney, Maddy, Bailey and Robyn.

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