‘Unbelievable’ effort to help WW2 veteran
Kind readers and supporters raise more than £6,300 after savings stolen
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