‘Fairy story’ for injured pensioner


Published: Friday 13th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Alleged mugging victim Alan Barnes said receiving £330,000 from well-wishers was “like a fairy story” as he officially received the cheque from the beautician who set up the online fund.

The 4ft 6in visually-impaired pensioner was guest of honour at a glitzy event in Newcastle, organised by his new friend Katie Cutler, the 21-year-old who started a fundraising campaign which went around the world.

Mr Barnes, 67, still has no firm plans for the windfall, which came about after an incident outside his home in Low Fell, Gateshead, on January 25 in which he fell and broke his collar bone.

A 25-year-old man appeared in court this week charged with assault with intent to rob.

Mr Barnes was left too scared to return home and the online fundraiser broke £330,000 before it was stopped – more than enough to buy him a new house.

At the Assembly Rooms venue in Newcastle, he said: “It is just absolutely like a fairy story. You might read about it in a book, but it has come true. It is hard to find the words really, it was just a total, total surprise.”

He plans to buy a house near Ms Cutler in Greenside, Gateshead, but is waiting for his bone to heal before he starts hunting. He said he will also undertake charity work with the money.

Of his recovery, he said: “I’m getting there. I can do small things like clean my teeth and get a bath now, eat biscuits and sweets with that hand.

“I haven’t attempted to open doors with that hand, I want my fracture to heal before that.”

He spoke modestly of his painful break, calling it an “inconvenience”.

He said: “I didn’t think you got people fundraising for that.”

Ms Cutler has already used her global fundraising profile to encourage donations to help buy a customised wheelchair for two-year-old Kacie Martin and for a mobility scooter for mother-of-three Danielle Rowland.

The ace fundraiser said: “It gives you a warm feeling inside when you help people.”

She said the key to helping more people in the future would be to start with low expectations.

When she set up the fund for Mr Barnes her aim was to raise £500 to pay for new curtains and carpets if he moved house.

She thanked the media for helping her campaigns and will now take stock of what has happened to her in the last fortnight.

“It doesn’t feel real,” she said. “It has been very overwhelming. Once it dies down and things get back to normality, that’s when it will sink in.”

Published: Friday 13th February 2015 by The News Editor

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