18 October 2019: This article appeared in the Bournemouth Echo. The text is reproduced below.
20 October 2019: Scroll down for the good news
A 103-year-old Christchurch man fears he’ll never go out again after a cruel thief stole his motability scooter. William Taylor used the £300 transport to get around near his home, visiting local shops and the nearby Salvation Army premises, said his grand-daughter, Julie Shields.
Since the theft last week, however, she said: “He’s been very low and all he does is ask if there’s any news of the scooter. He hasn’t been out at all.”
Mrs Shields said her grandfather, who served as an electrician during the war, had owned the scooter for a while and always parked it in a secure spot at his flats. “They’re doing up the grounds now and making the car-park different so they made a temporary shelter at the front and he parked his scooter out there,” she said. “Last week he went down one day and it was just gone. We were told it might have been taken for the battery but the person who did this probably gave no thought to the effect it would have on my grandfather. As it is, we really fear he’ll just give up.”
Mr Taylor lives independently at his flat, with the assistance of a carer and his family and until he reached his centenary three years ago was a keen bowler, earning himself the nickname, The Oldest Bowler in Town.
In 2015 he attended the Knyveton Gardens Bowls Club for the opening of their refurbished café by the then Mayor of Bournemouth, Councillor Chris Mayne. Mr Taylor took to the green with the mayor for a bowling session along with the club’s youngest player.
Now his family are appealing for the heartless thief to bring the scooter back. They say they did not report it to police because they feared upsetting Mr Taylor further and were unsure if anything could be done.
Mr Taylor, who lives on benefits, will be unable to replace the scooter because it was not insured, said his grand-daughter. “They haven’t just stole a scooter, they’ve stolen his peace of mind and his independence.”
Dorset Police said: ‘We take reports of theft seriously and we would always encourage members of the public to report offences to us so we can investigate. Offences can be reported to us at www.dorset.police.uk, via email email@example.com or by calling 101.’
Here is a comment from Cricket Coach, typical of many:
I have just set up a go fund me for this man.
If this can be shared it would be appreciated.
We can not let this scum win!
20 October: Great News
It was reported in The Echo today that the scooter has been replaced. Here is their headline:
Kind readers step forward to replace mobility scooter for 103-year-old
At the time of going to press, six people have offered to buy Mr Taylor a new scooter outright. One gentleman with a motability car said he’d be pleased to drive Mr Taylor wherever he wishes to go.
As it does not seem right to copy the whole article, click this link to read it.
Finally, part of a message from the Echo editor:
The scale of the response to Mr Taylor’s plight has, however, taken even us by surprise.
It is easy to get caught up in a miserable, even misanthropic, frame of mind while hearing about division, conflict and misfortune.
28 October: A Happy Ending
I reproduce an article from The Echo, bringing this to a highly satisfactory conclusion. Thanks to all those who helped, and the more who offered. The support was fantastic. Article below:
AN ELDERLY man who feared he’d never leave his home again after cruel thieves stole his motability scooter said he is “overwhelmed” to be testing out new wheels donated by one of our kind readers.
As reported, William Taylor, who is 103, lost his “peace of mind and his independence” when the thieves took the £300 scooter from a secure spot outside his Christchurch home.
However, after his story on the front page of the Daily Echo, there was a huge response from readers. Several of you offered to buy a new scooter outright, while others set up fundraising pages.
But Mr Taylor’s grandson Alan Trayling and granddaughter Julie Shields eventually decided they’d like to take a scooter donated by a local couple who have asked not to be named. The scooter has been fitted with a cape to keep the rain off when Mr Taylor goes out in bad weather. The cape was donated by Chris Brown who owns Ableworld in Wimborne Road, Kinson.
Mr Trayling said: “The response has just been absolutely amazing. We’ve been able to give him a scooter donated to us by a wonderful retired couple, who have asked to remain anonymous. Mr Brown from Ableworld also offered to donate a scooter to us, although by that time we’d agreed to accept the scooter grandad now has. He did, however, give some accessories for my grandad, which is very much appreciated. When I went to his shop in Kinson, he was so glad to help.”
Mr Trayling said Mr Taylor was “overwhelmed and so grateful” to everyone who came forward with offers to help. “I’d like to thank everyone on behalf of my grandad and all of the family,” he said.
Mr Taylor lives independently at his flat, with the assistance of a carer and his family. Until he reached his centenary three years ago he was a keen bowler, earning himself the nickname The Oldest Bowler in Town.
One of those who came forward to offer support is a member of the same club in Knyveton Gardens. He has offered to arrange a donation or day for elderly people who are victims of crime, Mr Trayling said.
Another individual has offered to contribute to the day, while a third has offered to host a separate event in aid of a services charity as Mr Taylor served as an electrician during the war.
Mr Trayling said: “It’s just been fantastic.”