Alan Barnes: fund for disabled pensioner approaches £300K

Katie Cutler, stranger who set up fund after attack on 67-year-old, described as 'credit to humanity'

Alan Barnes and Katie Cutler
(Image credit: BBC)

An appeal to help a disabled pensioner who was attacked by a mugger outside his home in Gateshead has raised nearly £300,000 in less than a week.

Alan Barnes, 67, broke his collarbone after he was knocked to the ground as he put his bins out last week, leaving him too scared to return to his house.

A local beautician Katie Cutler, 21, was so upset by the news that she set up a GoFundMe page in a bid to raise £500 to help him relocate. "We can't take away what has happened, but with a little donation we can make the future a prettier one and help towards the cost of his new home," she wrote.

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But the fund quickly surpassed her target as donations and messages of support flooded in from all over the world.

"Amazing... the spirit of human kindness has the power to far out-shadow the evil acts of humanity out there," wrote one donator. Another told Barnes: "Wishing you a safe, secure future, one where you will never face fear again."

There has been a lot of praise for Cutler too, with one donator describing her as a "credit to humanity".

She has since met up with Barnes, who was born with a number of disabilities, including a visual impairment, after his mother contracted German measles during pregnancy.

He told the BBC the response had been "just unbelievable" and that Cutler would be a friend for life.

"I've heard of fundraising for charities but I've only got a fractured collarbone, I didn't expect that sort of response," he said. "Thank you doesn't really seem to answer it, does it?"

Nearly 22,000 people have made donations in the last four days, with some individuals giving up to £1,000.

Barnes told ITV News Tyne Tees that it is people's generosity he will remember, rather than the mugging. "When my arm's healed up, it will fade away," he said. "But everything that's come with the fundraising – that will stay with me always."

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