War veteran Lionel was a ‘real life hero’
Tributes paid to ex-soldier and a ‘true gentlemen’
A RUISLIP Second World War veteran, who was at the centre of a huge community effort after his life savings were stolen, has passed away aged 93.
Lionel Lake hit the headlines in 2015 when he was targeted by heartless burglars who took his life savings while he slept.
The thieves were never caught, but within hours of the story being published a crowdfunding page was set up and members of the community raised thousands of pounds for Lionel in a touching show of solidarity.
Since the great grandfather passed away on Wednesday November 9, there has been a mass outpouring of grief over the ‘real life hero’s’ death.
Alan Palmer, who runs a crime awareness group for the Ruislip and Eastcote area Facebook page, and who came up with the idea to fundraise for Lionel, said: “The person who burgled our hero was never caught, but good came from the bad as our community came together.
“Lionel described the coming together event as one of the best in his life.
“We all loved you Lionel.
“Please remember him over the coming days. He was and always will be our hero.”
Another mourner said: “So sad. Love and thoughts are with his friends and family at this very sad time.
“Rest in peace Lionel.”
Lionel was described as ‘a truly amazing man’, ‘one in a million’ and ‘a true gentleman’.
In April 2015, the thieves broke into Lionel’s sheltered housing flat in Howletts Lane, Ruislip, after he had gone to bed at around 9pm.
The 91-year-old woke at around 1am to find thieves had snatched £5,000 in cash he had saved over many years to pass on to his children.
Speaking at the time, Lionel said: “I’d saved this for years and years as a little nest egg for my two boys and two girls to make sure I leave them something. Now it’s all gone.
“I’m shocked how the blinking hell they could have done it.”
But just two days after the fundraising page was launched, every penny that Lionel had lost in the burglary had been raised by generous readers.
A total of £6,632 was raised by 421 people, with the excess money being donated to the Royal British Legion and Help for Heroes, as Lionel had asked.
Lionel was born in Watford and joined the Home Guard aged 15, before he joined the army’s Rifle Brigade (Prince Consort’s Own) two years later.
In 1944 he took part in the D-Day Landings in Normandy as a lance corporal, where he was knocked unconscious by a mortar in Falaise.
He received four medals for his service.
The retired printer spent seven years in Australia in the 1960s with his wife Doris and children Penny, Wesley, Julie and Gary.
Lionel’s wife passed away in 2010, aged 88.
Despite forensic investigations and witness appeals by the Metropolitan Police, the burglars were never caught. Lionel called the public response to the theft ‘marvellous’ and said he could not get over it.
‘ONE IN A MILLION’: Lionel Lake who died on November 9; (below) his medals received serving in the Second World War; (below left) pictured with grand daughter Sally Fitzgerald