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Dorset fossil collector Steve Etches

PUBLISHED: 16:31 23 November 2016 | UPDATED: 16:31 23 November 2016

Archant

Steve Etches is clearly a clever, persuasive - and lucky - man.

If I told my wife I wanted to house 23,000 fossils in our dining room for the next 35 years, she’d turn me to stone.

Not only did Steve convince his wife to do just that, he has just pulled off another astonishing feat - securing £5million of lottery and private funding to build a state-of-the-art museum in Kimmeridge to house his record, priceless collection.

The Etches Collection: Museum of Jurassic Marine Life opens on October 21st and no one will be more delighted than Mrs Etches.

“She’s been very good,” admits Steve, a plumber by trade. “First, I converted the garage, then I took over the dining room. And then there’s the coach loads of students coming over to look at my fossils. It can’t have been easy for my wife.”

The 67-year-old made his first discovery - an echinoid flint cast - at the age of five before embracing the hobby with vim in his 30s, scouring the Dorset coast for rare pieces. His world-beating finds include crocodiles, sharks and dinosaurs, ranging from a two-metre jaw of a Pliosaur to a millimetre-long ammonite egg.

Steve says: “Scientists said this coastline had the least interesting fossils. But a plumber proved them all wrong. This will completely change what people think a museum is. It’s an experience that takes you back to deep time.”

Find out more at theetchescollection.org

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