Three months ago, Igor Gieci was living on the streets of Blackpool, where he was brutally attacked as he slept in his tent.
But now, thanks to the kindness of well-wishers, who raised thousands for the Slovakian, he will spend Christmas in the safety and warmth of his own flat.
Igor, a tailor by trade, has even been gifted a sewing machine, so he can start earning some income by repairing clothing.
Chris Conway, chairman of homeless campaign group United Blackpool, said: “I just want to say thank you. If it was not for the generosity of the community, he would still be on the streets and could be dead.”
Igor, 55, suffered a broken eye socket and ankle when three teenagers ordered him to hand over his money – he did not have any – before punching and kicking him repeatedly, smacking him with his own crutches, and stealing his basic Alcatel mobile phone.
Within hours of The Gazette telling of his ordeal, a fundraising campaign had been set up to pay for six months’ rent, while Igor was also treated to free food, mobile phone, clothes, a hair cut and more.
Just six days after the horrific beating, which happened in a shelter near to the Metropole Hotel on the Prom, he moved into a flat – paid for by you – in Park Road, central Blackpool.
“He has been doing really well,” Chris said. “He has flourished. We’re trying to get him a bit of work sewing clothes and doing repairs.
“He still has injuries from the attack, to his eye and his ankle – he has developed arthritis and will need an operation.
“But he has a purpose in life now, somewhere warm and safe to get his life together. He has friends and is in contact with his family back in Slovakia.”
A total of around £3,500 was raised by 237 people after an online Go Fund Me page was set up by resort homeless campaigner Mark Butcher and his wife Abi, who cared for Igor after the attack.
“When I saw him, he cried because he trusts me and I’m his friend,” Mark said previously.
“He asked me, ‘Why?’ I can’t answer him. I think it’s barbaric. I’m perplexed. I just don’t understand because he’s such a gentleman. He’s so nice.”
Igor, who was homeless for around eight months and addicted to alcohol, later told, in broken English, how much people’s help had meant to him.
He said: “I feel very warm in my heart. Me very happy. I want to say thank you to everyone in Blackpool. Too much me help. Too much.”
Shelley Meads, a friend of Mark and Abi, rallied to help move Igor into his new home, and said: “People can say what they want about Blackpool but, when it comes down to it, the community really knows how to pull together and have that community spirit when someone is in need.”
And Chris, from Bispham, who helped to move furniture in to the flat, said he has always been passionate about the plight of the homeless.
He said: “I have always felt strongly about homelessness and when I saw what Mark was doing I wanted to get involved.
“It warms your heart that people care about humanity. Igor is a gentle, kind man and no-one deserves what happened to him.”