A retired miner whose home was ransacked by burglars four days before Christmas has been left overwhelmed after strangers raised more than £20,000 for him.
Ted Green, 94, a former pitman and member of the Home Guard in the Second World War, was burgled on Tuesday night.
Mr Green, from Horden, County Durham, was pictured the next day sitting amid the upheaval caused by the thieves.
An online appeal to raise cash and save his Christmas was then given a huge boost when Love Island star Molly-May Hague and Geordie Shore‘s Holly Hagan shared Mr Green’s plight with their millions of followers on social media.
The appeal, set up only yesterday by a colleague of Mr Green’s grandson, had raised just over £21,000 as of Wednesday afternoon.
Retired miner Ted Green, 94, whose home was ransacked by burglars four days before Christmas, has been left overwhelmed after strangers raised more than £20,000 for him
Mr Green’s neighbour Declan O’Neill said: ‘There has been an outpouring of love and support for Ted and he’s been completely overwhelmed by the kindness people have shown.
‘Horden has really come together to help him because no one could believe anyone would stoop that low and the whole town wanted to get behind him.
‘But the online fundraising has gone crazy and raised far more than anyone could have imagined, it’s saved Ted’s Christmas but as yet it hasn’t been decided exactly how to use the money.’
Mr Green woke during the burglary in the early hours of Tuesday morning at his home in a row of former colliery houses.
He shouted and those inside fled the scene but the great-great-grandfather realised that his pension money, his car keys and house keys had all been stolen.
Mr Green, a former pitman and member of the Home Guard in the Second World War, was burgled on Tuesday night
He rang his daughter Sandra Hawkins, 54, who immediately rushed to his aid and ‘broke down’ when she saw the state of her dad’s house.
Ms Hawkins said: ‘He rang me at 5.09am to say his house had been ransacked. I jumped in the car and when I saw what had happened I burst into tears.
‘The police were already there and I just broke down I just couldn’t believe that somebody could so that to another person. It was absolutely awful.
‘Even just doing that to anybody is awful but it just makes it worse that he’s old and vulnerable.
‘We stayed up with him last night until he went to bed but it’s just heartbreaking, he’s 94 years old.
‘He wouldn’t leave his home, he’s lived there for 40 years [and] that was where my mam lived until she passed away.’
With his house in tatters, the family also realised the burglars had stolen sentimental objects including a miner’s lamp.
Mr Green, who previously worked at Houghton Colliery mines, has three children, 11 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren and one great-great-grandchild.
Ms Hawkins’s son Jordan posted about the break-in on Facebook to see whether anyone had any information but was overwhelmed by the response.
A fundraising page was set up by Gym 360, where Jordan trains, and soon the amount donated shot up to more than £20,000.
An online appeal to raise cash and save his Christmas, set up only yesterday by a colleague of Mr Green’s grandson, had raised just over £21,000 as of Wednesday afternoon
And people from Mr Green’s community also stepped up to help replace his broken windows and change his locks.
His local garage also came to sort out replace his car keys.
Ms Hawkins explained: ‘My son put something up just to see if anybody had heard anything and then the gym my son goes to set up a page and I just couldn’t believe it.
‘I just couldn’t believe how the people in the street, people we don’t know were sending us hampers and donating money.
‘We never asked for anything as a family but to see the generosity of people was really overwhelming.
‘It’s Christmas and it’s a really hard time at the moment with Covid-19 and people losing their jobs and the fact that people were actually donating money blew my mind.
‘We can’t thank everyone enough from the bottom of our hearts.’
But despite the generosity of the public, Ms Hawkins said the burglary has left her father fearful that the culprits could return.
She said: ‘Everybody absolutely loves my dad, he still drives, he still likes to go out to the shops so he’s very well known.
‘He’s one of those people who will help anyone, he can turn his hand to anything mechanical or building work and now people are helping him.
Mr Green woke during the burglary in the early hours of Tuesday morning at his home in a row of former colliery houses
‘My dad asked me whether these people were going to break in again and steal this money but I told him it was in an account.
‘You can put things right, you can tidy things up but it’s the fear and violation for my dad that’s the worst. To watch him go through this was absolutely heart-wrenching.’
Two 25-year-olds, a 26-year-old and a 45-year-old were arrested in connection with the burglary.
Durham Constabulary today confirmed the four arrested people have been released under investigation and inquiries are ongoing.
Detective Inspector Gareth Hodgson, of Peterlee CID, said: ‘Burglary is never acceptable, but a burglary committed against an elderly, vulnerable member of our community so close to Christmas is particularly callous.
‘I’d like to thank residents for their support while we carry out our inquiries.’