A KENDAL coin collector is helping to put rare Peter Rabbit 50p coins into circulation.

Mark Shearing is one of 40 people chosen by collectors' website The Great British Coin Hunt to release 400 of the shiny currency across the UK.

This week Mr Shearing has been slotting his ten 50 pences into coin-operated machines and rural parking meters across the Lake District, to help give everyone a chance of finding one in their change.

The 2019 coins, featuring an engraving of Beatrix Potter's mischievous bunny by Emma Noble, were put on sale by the Royal Mint for £10 this year, but did not go into circulation.

Mr Shearing told the Gazette: "In previous years the Royal Mint had released 13 Beatrix Potter 50p coins into circulation - five in 2016 and four in both 2017 and 2018. I felt this was unfair to thousands of collectors right across the UK, many of which are children and cannot afford to buy the latest Beatrix Potter coin for £10 plus postage, from the Royal Mint."

Ian Lambert, of The Great British Coin Hunt, had the idea his company would sponsor the release of 400 coins at his own expense, to give collectors a chance to find one in their change. Another 100 coins have been given to close family and friends or put up for sale with a signed letter of provenance and they are now selling for up to £5,000.

The Peter Rabbit 50 pences are being circulated across the UK by 40 volunteers. "I was keen to get involved," added Mr Shearing, "especially as I live in Kendal and the obvious local interest of Beatrix Potter and Peter Rabbit."

Mr Shearing has circulated his allocated coins at locations including Kendal, Keswick, Bowness, Windermere and two rural parking meters. "As most of these coins will be collected and deposited at a bank, there is a chance of the coins reappearing anywhere across the region," he said.

To find out more, see www.thegreatbritishcoinhunt.com