A 96-year-old artist, known for creating paper people that have featured in the St Albans Museum & Gallery, has donated a large portion of his collection.

A number of John Wheeler's intricately created figures will now be sold to raise funds for a charity that raises awareness and funds research for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA).

'Rally Round Rupert' was created by Rupert's parents, after the now two-year-old St Albans boy was diagnosed with SMA at the age of eight weeks.


John's figures stand at around 15cm tall, and all feature unique characteristics.

He began creating the pieces by producing Christmas decorations for his partner Jacquie in 2019.

Herts Advertiser: John's figures on display in the St Albans Museum & Gallery.John's figures on display in the St Albans Museum & Gallery. (Image: Jan Shepheard / Rally Round Rupert)

During the coronavirus lockdown, John began donating his figures to a library, becoming known as 'the Mystery Maker' until his true identity was revealed.

His figures have gone on to be displayed at the St Albans Museum & Gallery and St Saviour’s Christmas Tree Festival.


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John's partner Jacquie sadly passed away in 2021, but her love for children lives on with John's charitable donation.

With August marking SMA Awareness month, John has donated a portion of figures to an auction raising money for Rally Round Rupert.

A spokesperson for Rally Round Rupert said: "John’s partner Jacquie, always adored children, so John is very pleased to raise funds in her memory to help Rupert and other children with SMA...

Herts Advertiser: Rupert with John's Rupert the Bear figures.Rupert with John's Rupert the Bear figures. (Image: Jan Shepheard / Rally Round Rupert)

"The paper people are all intricately made from paper, with tiny details, and stand approximately 15cm tall.

"They really are individual, miniature works of art, hand crafted with great patience by 96 year old John.

"Each Lot is sold as shown in the photos, with some collections being offered as complete sets.

"These are mostly based on characters from John's favourite stories, such as Alice in Wonderland, The Wind in the Willows and Oliver Twist.

"Every penny really counts in the fight against SMA, so please dig deep and let’s all Rally Round Rupert together."

Bids on John's figures can be made by visiting the Paper People Jumblebee page: www.jumblebee.co.uk/paperpeople

Donations to Rally Round Rupert can also be made separately, by visiting the charity's GoFundMe page.