A PENSIONER whose Alcester shop was targeted by thieves two months ago has been left ‘absolutely overwhelmed’ by fund-raising efforts held in his name.
Alan Stephens, who runs Alcester Sports and Tackle along with ex-wife Yvonne, found his Arden Forest Industrial Estate store vandalised and empty when he arrived to open up on July 8.
The thieves had made off with £40,000 worth of his stock.
But in a heart-warming victory, Alan has been able to continue trading thanks to the generosity of the Alcester community and people across the county who heard of his plight.
“It has been absolutely overwhelming,” he said. “I am over the moon – it is so lovely to be appreciated.”
The 72-year-old feared his 36-year career was over when he could not afford to restock the store.
He added: “We are getting there slowly.
“All of the help I have received has without a shadow of a doubt helped me to get out of the rut.
“Without it I would not have been able to stay in business.”
The latest fund-raising effort was held on Saturday (August 15), where local anglers Tony and Joanne Avery arranged a fishing competition at Alcester Members Club.
The event, which had 53 competitors, raised £1,000 for Alan who said he found it difficult to describe his gratitude.
“It’s been an awakening,” he added. “At my age you tend to forget how people think of you, I think people see me as a silly old beggar but I must have done something right throughout my career.”
Since the theft, around £5,000 has been raised through various means to help Alan get back on his feet.
A unanimous decision by Astwood Bank Angling Club saw Alan refunded the £120 he paid to place an advert with them and 18-year-old Loren Lewis set up a Just Giving page to help the popular pensioner.
At the time The Standard went to press, the page had raised £2,540.
Alan has been left feeling emotional after the sheer amount of support he has received from the community.
“For every bad person out there,” he added, “there are 100 good ones.
“We have to dismiss the bad ones and look to the good people.”
Vist https://crowdfunding.justgiving.com/loren-lewis-1 for more information and to donate.