14-year-old Matthew has a real passion for cars, a passion that is perhaps deepened by his being on the autism spectrum. But this young boy is invested in more than just vehicles—he also cares a lot about helping people and found a creative way to turn his passion into a hobby that helps his neighbors in need.
It’s not a particularly glamorous affair, but Matthew couldn’t be happier than he is when he’s collecting hubcaps and distributing them to people who need them for free.
“He just likes helping people,” says Rachel Checksfield, Matthew’s mother. “He’s always been a helping sort of person.”
Matthew, from South Gloucestershire, also has ADHD and learning disabilities and attends a special school. He has always loved cars, particularly the wheels and hubcaps of the cars.
“When he was younger, we gave him frisbees, and he attached the Ford logo onto them,” says Rachel. “He’s always had an interest in vehicles and wanted to touch cars all the time, even when they were moving, so we’ve had to teach him to be careful around them.”
Matthew currently has about 150 hubcaps in his personal collection, which he keeps in the front garden until they can be matched to cars that are missing them. In just three months, Rachel says Matthew has been able to locate 20 vehicles in need of hubcaps and match them with one from his collection.
It wasn’t until Matthew’s story reached Reddit that it really began to earn him some recognition. A Reddit user who goes by the handle DiddyBCFC posted a photograph of the hubcap and note that Matthew left for their mother. “A HUGE thank you to Matthew, keep doing what you’re doing!” says DiddyBCFC.
Matthew’s note said:
“My name is Matthew, I’m 14, I live in Thornbury, and I love all things about cars—especially wheels and hubcaps. I also have autism, which, in my case, enables me to notice and remember a lot of details and easily tell the difference between various types of hubcaps and which care make and model they fit on. I have a collection of them that I have found in places like hedgerows, care parks, etc. I wash them and make sure they are still complete, then I add them to my collection. My favorite thing to do, though, is to give them to people that have a hubcap missing!
“As we were driving past recently, I noticed a vehicle next to your house has a hubcap missing, and, luckily, I have the exact one you need! My parents have helped me leave it here for you, along with some cable ties, in case you’d like to put it on your car. I hope you like it!”
The note, which was decorated with a road border and a variety of hubcap designs, was signed by Matthew and accompanied by a message from Matthew’s parents.
Since the story went online, it’s become an international sensation. Rachel says Matthew has yet to receive an in-person thank you, probably because of the pandemic, but he has received a note on the family car, as well as the online recognition.
“It is hard with autistic children sometimes because so much of their interests are in their head, and you can’t always participate with them, whereas this—because he needs my help—he does verbalise it more,” says Rachel. “We’re incredibly close, but it is nice to be able to do this with him.”
Keep up the great work, Matthew! You’re changing the world one hubcap at a time!Whizzco