The generosity and warmth of the human heart has been ably demonstrated in recent days by the selfless efforts of fundraiser Katie Cutler, in support of an elderly mugging victim from Gateshead. Alan Barnes is 67 years old, just 4'6" tall and weighs in at only six-stone, an innocent victim who has had to live with disabilities all of his life, as a result of the German measles his mother contracted during her pregnancy. He was callously attacked outside his home in Low Fell, Gateshead, while putting out the rubbish, and although the would-be robber fled empty-handed, Mr Barnes broke his collarbone as a consequence of the assault.
It left the frail man who is also partially sighted, clearly badly distressed by the incident and he soon moved in with his sister in nearby Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, adding that: "I won't be able to go back to that house," after the attack on 25th January.
The outpouring of support and humility for Mr Barnes since the mugging has been nothing short of amazing, heightened and encouraged by Katie Cutler's intervention in setting up a fundraising page on behalf of the elderly man. Initially hoping to reach a modest target of £500, she launched the Help Alan Barnes page through 'Go Fund Me', but has been staggered by the public's generosity subsequently, that has pushed the figure to in excess of the £300,000 mark and most likely beyond that in the days to come (given the offers by businesses and schools to hold fundraising events). Over 20,000 individual donations have been made by well-wishers who added their own personal messages, not only from the UK, but also from Canada, Holland, USA and even as far afield as New Zealand.
Besides the donations of money, other kindly souls have also offered more practical assistance, such as plumbers and electricians, as the community spirit has rallied around in Mr Barnes' time of need.
Ms Cutler has since met Mr Barnes at his sister's house and presented him with chocolates and a card. The gentle man was clearly tremendously moved by her efforts on his behalf, adding that: "It's like magic really, I didn't expect anything," as he told her that she would be a lifelong friend of his from now on.
It is now planned for the money to go into a trust fund in Mr Barnes' name. #Society