Last week there was an outpouring of justifiable shock and outrage when Holly Lane amputee Graham had his wheelchair stolen from outside of his bungalow presumably by a group of local youths, only to be found later near the skate park at Oak Park, trashed beyond repair.
Well, a Gofundme appeal was started, local journalists became involved, the BBC ran a couple of articles on Radio WM and a really negative, horrible thing was turned around into something much more positive.
In a very short time indeed, the fundraising total of £700 for a replacement chair was exceeded, and I would personally like to thank all who donated, but I’d like to give a shoutout and warm thanks to the blog readers who donated, and a couple in particular who stunned us all.
However, is wasn’t just those who could donate; many others did what they could by sharing and publicising the appeal, which is hugely valuable in itself. Thanks to you all.
This quiet display of generosity, compassion, felicity and pure human warmth has shocked and pleased both myself, and Adrian Handley, Graham’s freind, who raised the alarm.
Adrian posted the following message on Facebook this afternoon – you can see the original post here.
Now we are getting back to some kind of normality I thought it was time that I posted and update on Graham’s story.
Following the theft and finding the destroyed chair on Wednesday night, we were all feeling pretty low, despite the community response we had received in trying to find the chair, the damage was done and we were all gutted.
On Thursday we were given a price of £700 for a direct replacement chair and following numerous offers of crowd funding accepted the offer from Rachel Lockett to set up a fundraising page.
The coverage from Brownhills Bob brought the story to the attention of BBC WM, and in under 24 hours we had exceeded the target.
There was a couple of week’s wait to get the chair, so today we set off calling and visiting wheelchair specialists to see what we can do more quickly.
The staff at the shop we visited in Burton this afternoon were incredible and were able to supply us with a suitable wheelchair to take away today. They also managed to do this for less than we had previously been quoted, so there is a bit of money left over.
Over the next couple of weeks we will be looking to install some kind of locking post, to ensure the wheelchair can never be stolen again.
If as I expect we still have some money left, then we will be looking to donate it to a charity or another good cause. I will be looking for opinions on what best to do once I know exactly what we have left.
Graham would like to express his gratitude for the way so many people have come together and turned a negative into a positive. This new wheelchair will mean he can get around his bungalow to do the simplest things that were not possible, or at least very difficult for the last few days.
I would like to sign off for now by repeating my thanks to every person who has shared the appeal, donated and provided support in so many ways.
Thanks to Adrian for the kind words, and very thoughtful and eloquent post. You readers – the community – have done us all proud. We can be very despondent when awful things happen, but stories like this do show that despite the bad apples all communities contain, we do have a great deal of decent folk here ready to help in a crisis.
There is a point I will make, though: Graham left his chair, as many disabled folk do, on his drive after getting into his car and driving off – the problem of what you do with the chair in such instances where you’re alone is common to many wheelchair users.
Does anyone have any practical solutions to this problem? A locking post seems a good idea, but what if it’s raining? Can’t be much fun getting into a wet chair. Suggestions or ideas welcome, please.
Also, remember that the police are still investigating so if you know who the thieves were, or if you saw anything at all, please do contact West Midlands Police by dialling 101 or speak to Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.