Ebbw Vale street named after inspirational Billy Collins


The compelling tale of Billy Collins, a steelworks employee who took to the Music Hall stage despite living the majority of his life without arms, was brought to light by Ciaran Mitchel-Neal one of our Post 16 learners during his work experience with Ebbw Vale Works Museum. Ciaran discovered the incredible story of Billy, who lost his arms in an incident at the brickworks when he was just 14.

Known as ‘Billy the Armless Wonder’, the tenacious Billy would astound audiences by doing up shirt buttons with his toes, playing piano with his nose, and painting with a brush held in his mouth.

Billy didn’t stop at becoming a local celebrity; he was also dedicated to supporting others facing adversity, including wounded soldiers and victims of thalidomide.

Ciaran, with the support of his teaching assistant and work Experience coordinator Nancy Keshy, and volunteers from Ebbw Vale Works Museum, brought Billy’s story to life in a film and exhibition.

His ambition was to create a lasting tribute to Billy, whose life was a testament to resilience and courage.

On Wednesday, May 14, this aspiration was realised with the naming of the street.

Watch Ciaran’s video here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HPfJ4Z0jRx8