By Nicole Hegarty.
A panda experience at age 11 has developed into a record breaking collection.
Already the biggest enthusiast in the southern hemisphere, Mick Graham, 80, is in contention for a place in the Guinness World Records.
Mr Graham says he has lost count of the number of panda items in his collection room.
“Unfortunately I buy them because I don’t remember that I’ve got them,” Mr Graham says.
He first met a panda at age 11 after his father sponsored ‘Lien Ho’, which translates to union.
Mr Graham has followed in his father’s footsteps, sponsoring his own animal from China.
But the link to pandas reaches back to April 19, 1937 – the day Mr Graham was born.
“The first panda outside China was smuggled by a very famous American woman as they didn’t let them out,” he says.
“She smuggled it out on the day I was born.”
He didn’t start collecting until 1961, however, when he was gifted a panda monument by the Chinese Government.
Today his shelves are filled with panda memorabilia from around the world.
“You’d be surprised how many shops you can go into that have panda stuff,” he says.
“Plates, lots of plates, salt and peppers, mugs, lolly tins, holders for chopsticks.
“I buy two, one to use.”
He says it’s far too difficult to choose a favourite.