A bench lover has become a global hit for rating Britain’s benches out of ten.
Recruitment worker Sam Wilmot, 23, began sharing his unusual passion with the world when a pal suggested he created an Instagram account for a laugh.
Since launching @ratethisbench in June 2019, Sam has rated 200 outdoor seats, racking up nearly 8,000 followers in the process.
The modern history postgraduate from Yate, Bristol, said: “I’ve always been a fan of sitting down or at least I had an eye for a good bench from my younger years.
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“But the page was the idea of a couple friends from university when we were out on a walk one afternoon and I started to comment on what I did and didn’t like about the benches we passed.
“One lad said it would be a hilarious idea for an Instagram page.”
Few benches in South Wales and Bristol have escaped Sam’s critique as he berates them on social media for comfortability, maintenance and views.
Feedback from his followers in the early days has left the grassroots footie referee raising the bar. He said: “There’s a few followers of the page who pick up on times I’ve been overly lenient or given a higher than expected rating.
“That in itself has meant I’m probably overly critical on occasions. I try to remain consistent.”
Sam puts his unlikely popularity online down to bringing something a bit different to the usual selfies and food snaps.
"There’s been hundreds of people who have messaged me to discuss their favourite benches or why my account means so much to them,” he said.
“And there’s been just as many people who have submitted their own reviews from far and wide, Australia, India, America, Canada, Europe.
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“It’s exciting to see how far and wide it’s spread. I think people are appreciative of a positive account to break up their feeds.”
Of all the benches Sam has put through their paces, his favourite lies outside the St John the Baptist church in Old Sodbury, South Glos.
“Strictly speaking as regular benches go, I genuinely believe this is near-on perfection,” he wrote.
Benches in Brynmill Park, Swansea and Conor Hall’s bench in Downend make up his top three.
At the other end of the spectrum, his worst benches can be found on River Street, Bristol, another he dubs the “Stupidest bench in Wales” for being two feet from a hedge, and an "anti-homeless" bench in Cardiff City centre.
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