A Blackpool veteran who had his war medals stolen was left speechless when his neighbours rallied round and had them replaced.
John, better known as Jim Marshall, was left heartbroken when his four service medals were stolen from his flat two years ago in a burglary.
But community minded neighbours launched an appeal to raise the money to buy replacements.
This week they busted their target and neighbour Vicki McCullion and her friends bought the medals, set them in presentation cases and presented them to the stunned 98-year-old.
Today Jim said: “I would just like to thank everyone who helped to do this.
“I really did not want all the fuss but it is wonderful. I can’t believe they wanted to do this for me.
I am absolutely overwhelmed by the kindness. It just shows there is community spirit out there and it’s not all bad news
“Vicki has really put herself out to do this.
“I know it sounds very simple, just a few medals, but I was upset when they were stolen.
“They have put them in a frame and I will put it on my mantelpiece where I can look at them.”
Vicki said that her appeal via the Gofund Me website had raised enough to buy the medals with £291 left over.
She said: “After The Gazette ran the story we had two big donations of £100.
“We had already bought two of the medals, my friend Lorraine had got one and I found the others online.
“I am just so pleased and want to thank everyone who has helped us.
“He was speechless when he found out.
“Jim’s face when we presented them to him was a picture, it said it all.
“We have already donated £50.60 to the 1st knight charity for soldiers in Blackpool and the rest we will use to give Jim a proper Christmas.
“We are going to get him a new winter coat , put gas in his meter and buy him presents and a proper Christmas dinner.
“I am absolutely overwhelmed by the kindness. It just shows there is community spirit out there and it’s not all bad news.”
Vicki said she was moved to help Jim after hearing of another local Gofund Me campaign, Stephanie Arnold’s drive to raise money for homeless people in Blackpool.
She said Jim was like a grandad to her and her children help him out by walking his dog.
She said:“Jim is one of those people who has done so much for this country that he deserves to get something back. I have a real respect for our veterans, they have given so much.
“When his medals were stolen it was heartbreaking.”
Jim, who has lived in his flat at St Hellier’s Road for 14 years, signed up for the RAF during the Second World War.
He was a cook and served in the Far East. After the war he returned to Blackpool to work in the hotels and was a staunch supporter of the local Royal National Lifeboat Institution charity, often working in their charity shop and collecting in the street.
He told The Gazette that although he was no hero the medals, the 1939-1945 Defence Medal, the War Medal 1939-1945, the Burma Star and the 1939-1945 RAF Star, brought back memories of his time in the RAF and the people he served with.