AN elderly lady who had thousands of pounds stolen from her by a young neighbour says her faith in humanity has been restored after strangers raised more than £2,000.
Pals Joe Casey and Bryan King, of Seaburn, launched an appeal on Facebook after reading the recent stories in the Echo, about the thieves who shamelessly targeted elderly and vulnerable victims.
Setting out to raise £300, the pair were overwhelmed by the response after totting up the total – £2,145. The money has been equally split in three.
Iris Thompson, who had £4,000 stolen from her bank account by Adelle Ganley, and a 79-year-old lady, who was followed home by Michael Stead and robbed of her Christmas cash and winter fuel allowance, have each received £715.
Ganley, 20, of Empress Street, Southwick, received a suspended prison sentence for theft and was told to repay the cash, while Stead, 32, of Byron Street, Silksworth, was jailed for three years after admitting theft and an unrelated burglary.
The third portion of the money went to SAFC lucky charm, little George Johnson, who led the team out on the pitch at last week’s cup final at Wembley.
Launching the appeal on Facebook, Joe and Bryan had urged: “Let’s show what the real people of Sunderland are all about.”
And they did. The community rallied round and young children even raided their piggybanks and donated their pocket money.
Mrs Thompson’s daughter June McCormack said: “It’s restored my mother’s faith in humanity. We can’t thank them enough. It shows that there are good people out there.
“It’s been absolutely fantastic, the response. The generosity and kindness of everybody. I just want people to know how grateful my mum is. She still can’t get over what happened, but every day is getting a bit better. Things like these are making her see that not everybody is bad.”
“It was my friend Joe’s idea,” Bryan said. “We thought we’d have a whip-round between the lads to try and raise £300. We put something on facebook and it just went absolutely crazy. It’s brought everybody together.”
People were able to make donations online and via Joe’s wife Kate’s shop Flower Angels and the Jackson’s pub in Monkwearmouth.