‘Un­be­liev­able’ ef­fort to help WW2 vet­eran

Kind read­ers and sup­port­ers raise more than £6,300 af­ter sav­ings stolen

Harefield Gazette - - FRONT PAGE - By Will Ack­er­mann will.ack­er­mann@trin­i­tymir­ror.com

A SEC­OND World War vet­eran from Ruis­lip whose life sav­ings were stolen by a bur­glar will be re­paid in full af­ter an in­cred­i­ble com­mu­nity fundrais­ing cam­paign.

Lionel Lake, 91, of St Catherine’s Farm Court, Howletts Lane, fea­tured on the front page of last week’s Gazette af­ter a cal­lous crim­i­nal stole his £5,030 nest egg while he slept.

Within hours of the Gazette hit­ting the streets, a crowd-fund­ing page launched on the in­ter­net and read­ers have been flock­ing to it to do­nate. At the time we went to press on Tues­day an in­cred­i­ble £6,387 had been raised by 408 peo­ple in just five days, with money pour­ing in from as far afield as New York.

Not only is it enough to re­place what was stolen but the ex­cess money is to go the Royal Bri­tish Le­gion and Help for He­roes, as per Mr Lake’s wishes.

On hear­ing of the re­sponse, the great grand­fa­ther said: “I just can’t get over it. It’s ab­so­lutely mar­vel­lous. It’s un­be­liev­able.”

He added: “I nearly fainted when I found out what peo­ple were do­ing. I didn’t know what to think.

“I’m no­body out of the or­di­nary, but af­ter the events that have hap­pened... blimey.”

The fundrais­ing web­page was the brain­child of Alan Palmer, ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Face­book group Crime Aware­ness Group for the Ruis­lip & East­cote Area.

He and oth­ers used the so­cial me­dia group, which has more than 5,600 mem­bers, to tire­lessly spread the link to their Go­FundMe page, which was due to close yes­ter­day.

Mr Palmer, 59, of Park­field Cres­cent, South Ruis­lip, said: “When the story broke, for me it was in­stan­ta­neous – I thought, ‘We’ve got to do some­thing.’ You can’t just stand back in life all the time.

“I think it’s out­stand­ing what ev­ery­one’s achieved. I’ve lived in Ruis­lip for most of my adult life and I think what’s hap­pened here is re­ally unique.

“I think this shows that the area is cry­ing out for things like this. Peo­ple want to be part of the com­mu­nity. They want to help one an­other.”

As ef­forts in­ten­si­fied, shops in East­cote and Ruis­lip set up col­lec­tion tins and printed fly­ers to spread the mes­sage fur­ther.

Celebri­ties in­clud­ing actress Linda Rob­son – best known for play­ing Tracey Stubbs in the sit­com Birds of a Feather – and fundrais­ing cham­pion Gor­don Hill – also known as the Weald­stone Raider – also do­nated.

Mr Lake’s grand­daugh­ter, Sally Fitzger­ald, a 37-year-old med­i­cal cen­tre re­cep­tion­ist from Ruis­lip, said: “It’s just so sur­real. The whole week has just been amaz­ing.

“To have all his money back is just in­cred­i­ble, but the com­ments will touch our hearts for­ever. I just can’t ex­press my grat­i­tude enough. It’s just been amaz­ing.”

Re­tired printer Mr Lake took part in the D-Day Land­ings in 1944 and re­ceived four medals for his ser­vice, af­ter be­ing knocked out by a mor­tar ex­plo­sion in Falaise.

n AB­SO­LUTELY MAR­VEL­LOUS: Lionel Lake has been touched by peo­ple’s gen­eros­ity af­ter he had his sav­ings stolen

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