After heartless thieves stole charity cash raised by a disabled schoolboy, generous donors have helped replace it – by giving almost 20 times as much.
Staff at Lytham CE Primary School were left shocked when a break-in at the school office saw petty cash taken – and particularly upset that the haul included £110 raised by pupil Sam Nelson.
The 10-year-old has backed several good causes over the past couple of years with sponsored walks on the treadmill he uses daily as key exercise for his cerebral palsy condition.
Sam raised £450 last year which funded a ‘buddy bench’ for the junior pupils at the school and the £110 was to go towards an equivalent for the infants.
The school set up an online fund-raising page to try and compensate for the loss – and within hours, it had topped £2,000, far exceeding the target of £250.
“We couldn’t believe it,” said Lytham CE headteacher Helen Willott.
“We were completely overwhelmed when we saw how much had been donated in such a short time.
“It is a magnificent example of the community rallying round – and all inspired by a very special boy.
“Sam loves raising money and was very proud of the £110 he had made towards the infant buddy bench.
“When we realised that was among the money which had been taken from the office, we were very upset for Sam.
“But when we told him, he just said: ‘Well I suppose I will have to raise some more’.
“We liaised with his mum and set up the Just Giving page explaining the circumstances.
“We set a target of £250, which would pay for the buddy bench but before the end of the day, it had rocketed over £2,000.
“It’s wonderful and we are so grateful to everyone.”
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Sam’s mum Zoe said: “Sam needs to go on the treadmill for 10 minutes a day for essential exercise.
“The idea of him doing sponsored treadmill challenges were initially suggested as a way of motivating him but he has so enjoyed the fund-raising, he just wants to do more and more.
“He especially enjoyed raising money for the junior buddy bench last year and was proud of what he had raised so far for the infant one.
“The break-in was a horrible thing to happen but it was great of the school to set up a Just Giving page and everyone has been so generous.
“Sam will leave Lytham CE in the summer and he is the last of the family to go there, so it’s good that the benches will be left as a kind of legacy.”
Mrs Willott added it was up to Sam what the surplus cash raised through Just Giving would go towards.
But some new outdoor play facilities were prime contenders.
“He is such a special boy – always smiling and so determined to help others,” she said.
“Our school motto is ‘be the best you can be’ and Sam is such a shining example of that.
“We are very proud of him.”
An office window was smashed in the burglary at the school, which happened at around 9pm on Wednesday,
Police are still investigating the incident and any witnesses or anyone with information is asked to call 101 quoting reference number 1316 of November 21.
Sam’s first fund-raising effort on the treadmill at his home in St Thomas Road, St Annes came when he was inspired by TV pictures of the Grenfell Tower fire to donate to the Firefighters’ Charity.
Since then, he has boosted a variety of causes, most recently helping fund chocolate selection boxes to be distributed by Fylde charities to youngsters in needy families this Christmas.
“He just wants to help others,” said mum Zoe.