Written by: Saad Shah & Rebecca
Tom Halliday, a 77-year-old pensioner has become famous across Bolton for feeding birds and waving at commuters on a daily basis. The now well-known character walks up Smithills Dean Road every morning and takes his seat on a bench at the top, where he spreads joy and happiness to everyone who passes him. We invited Tom to take part in an interview to find out more about what his motives are.
What motivated you to do what you do?
After 50 years of working, and the termination of that part of my life, I suddenly had time on my hands. After a heavy snow fall one day, I decided to walk up the hill with a bag of bird seeds, as I knew they wouldn’t be able to get food. It just grew from there.
What makes you feel so happy that you want to smile and wave at strangers?
It’s an act of courtesy and it’s reciprocal. It makes me feel 10 feet tall.
Is it OK to call you the Birdman?
What do you feed the birds with?
I take seeds for them.
Does everyone wave back at you?
Yes, most people do. There are three groups of people: first to pass are the manual workers; next are the professional workers and then the school run.
Do you have any family?
No, I have always been single. I do have a brother and a sister.
You obviously cheer up many people – what cheers you up?
What I do – it’s like a drug.
How do you feel about becoming so well known?
It makes me feel very happy and proud to make others happy.
Do you have any hobbies?
Feeding the birds has taken over my life.
Do you go up in all weathers?
I go every day but not when the rain is bad.
Do you feel you pass happiness on to others?
Yes, I do. I ‘m a bit old fashioned. I was brought up in a different time when people didn’t have much.
It was an absolute pleasure meeting Tom and hearing about the joy he gets, not only from feeding the birds, but also from the people who wave back at him every morning, 365 days a year.