Mom’s heartbreaking reason for owning the world’s largest Harry Potter collection
Tracey holds the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of Harry Potter memorabilia. She lives in Pentwyn, Wales with her husband Martin.
My back hurts as I cradle my baby bump and lie down on the sofa, a replica of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone by JK Rowling, who flops down on the pillow next to me. It’s 2002 and I’m weeks away from the birth of my little boy Brendan.
It’s my second attempt at the magical novel – dyslexia makes reading difficult – but I have time on my side. My steaming mug is getting cold as I record page after page. My imagination plays with wizards, witches and a little boy with a lightning bolt scar on his head. I just fell in love so much.
I was a latecomer to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. The first book came out five years before I saw it. But the stories mean a lot more to me than a little magic.
In 2005 my first husband, Simon, passed away. He bought me the first book and helped fuel my passion for the fascinating series.
Born with a hole in his heart, Simon suffered complications as an adult. Doctors treated him for asthma – his symptoms of shortness of breath and wheezing were very similar – but they were wrong.
The day he died we were told he had gas. His heart gave out and I was devastated and alone with our then 3 year old boy.
Before Simon died, he reserved Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire To me. This book was the last gift he gave me and I will cherish it forever.
Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)
When I was pregnant, Harry Potter candy was sold in supermarkets. Craving sugar, I went to the local store and bought some chocolate frogs. Inside each box was a wizard trading card – just like you see in the movies. That’s when my collecting started. I still have a chocolate frog from all those years ago, fully boxed and sealed.
When Simon died I bought items to remember him. It started with little things like keychains, teddies and accessories. When my son was growing up we would spend the weekends at Toys R Us and I would buy him a little figure – but this was really for me!
Over the years my collection grew until it filled an entire room and then my entire house. I had to move three years ago just to make room for everything.
Such a magical day
I was a single mom until I met my second husband Martin in 2016. We tied the knot at Discovery Cove in Florida and of course it was Harry Potter themed.
I made my own bouquet from pages from Harry Potter books. After the ceremony I changed into Hogwarts robes and Martin and I had a photoshoot at Universal Studios with Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express as our backdrop. It was a magical day that I will never forget.
Martin doesn’t really like Harry Potter – but he would do anything for me and knows how much the franchise means to me. And amazingly, my collecting has never led to a fight between us.
It’s been 20 years since I first picked up a chocolate frog at Tesco. I now hold the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of Harry Potter (and the wizarding world!) memorabilia.
My collection of over 6,000 items takes up five rooms and a hall when everything is laid out! I still remember counting everything to get the record. We had to take a picture of each item and write each one down while being filmed. Two officers counted with us and it took five hours – we were even filmed when we took a break. It’s so strict.
Most Martin spends on an item is a few hundred pounds (usually a Christmas present, like the £350 LEGO Hogwarts Castle), but I like my bargains. You will often find me scouring the internet for the best deals. Nevertheless, we save in other places – we have left the age of clubbing behind us!
Rowan Griffiths / Daily Mirror)
Before we moved I collected about 100 items a year. But I don’t want to move anymore, so I slowed down. Now I guess I’ll buy about 50 things.
We recently attended the premiere of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore and have some priceless pieces to add to my collection. Martin and I queued for hours for a front-row peek at the red carpet – I snapped selfies with director David Yates and Eddie Redmayne, who plays Newt Scamander. Jude Law even signed my world record certificate!
While I watched the movie with the stars, Martin stayed outside and was handed a giant movie poster by a security guard. It might seem mean to leave my husband out – but he doesn’t share my passion for Harry Potter.
He wanted to accompany me on my trip to London because he knows I’m really bad with directions. And without him I wouldn’t have the poster. He spent hours queuing with me to see the actors and even walked around London with Mad-Eye Moody’s walking stick for seven hours!
Worth a fortune
My collection ranges from figurines and fan posters to jewellery, vintage bins, calendars, shoes and clothing. I practically live in my dress of the Marauder’s Map.
My favorite piece keeps changing. At the moment it’s my collection of Harry Potter watches. Unfortunately they don’t help me with time travel like Hermione’s time-turner!
I leave most items untouched, even if they cost a few cents. The collector in me says this could all be worth a fortune one day. Also, my son doesn’t take it when I’m away. He said to me, “Mom, don’t you dare let me do it!”
Brendan is 20 now but I won’t let him forget how much he used to love Harry Potter. I read the books to him so many times that he told people he lived under the stairs.
It was awkward having to tell strangers that no, I don’t keep my child in a small closet! At the age of 10, spending the holidays in disguise at Harry Potter World wasn’t cool anymore.
Today I have to warn him when I’m in the newspaper. His friends rip him, but secretly they all love it. When Brendan’s friends came over, they excitedly asked if they could see my collection – he would be so embarrassed!
When I’m not collecting Harry Potter merchandise or attending screenings, book launches, and premieres in my Professor McGonagall costume, I spend my days tending to our animal menagerie—a dog, a pygmy African hedgehog, and six cats.
The pup is named Bellatrix and four cats are also named after characters – Sirius, Luna, Albus and Nymphadora Tonks.
I can’t say why I keep collecting. I fall in love with every new item I see. My favorite place for vintage items is eBay. They look so much nicer than the modern things.
I recently bought an absolutely disgusting muddy Ron Weasley toy. It was on sale so I couldn’t resist. But it’s really awful – I’m not smitten with every single item… but I’ll keep them.
I have a whole community of Harry Potter fans that I call friends. And I was lucky enough to meet almost all the movie characters too: Arthur Weasley, Draco and Lucius Malfoy, Luna Lovegood, even Ron Weasley – I gave him a Harry Potter PEZ dispenser and he gave me a good cuddle. I’m usually speechless when I meet the actors, I’m so excited.
It’s my life’s mission to meet Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson (who played Harry Potter and Hermione Granger).
I always say I’m going to downsize my collection… but Martin took me to the Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making Of Harry Potter for my birthday in April and I couldn’t resist buying more!
Since then 25 years have passed Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published. I feel different than most fans – magic was what I was clinging to when Simon died. I needed something to help me deal with the pain of losing my husband and Harry Potter was there. For me it is more than just a collection. It contains my happiest memories.
Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone 25th Anniversary Hardcover releases June 26 (Bloomsbury, £16.99)
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/mums-heartbreaking-reason-owning-worlds-27234658 Mom's heartbreaking reason for owning the world's largest Harry Potter collection