Generosity of public restores the faith of Lisburn burglary victim Lilly O'Hara (91)
Big-hearted members of the public have donated more than £4,000 in 24 hours to help a 91-year-old Lisburn woman who had her life savings stolen.
Lilly O'Hara and her family have been overwhelmed by the generous response of supporters who have pledged money through two fundraising websites to help replace thousands of pounds she had put away to cover the costs of her funeral.
Yesterday, as wellwishers in east Belfast and Lisburn prepared to organise bucket collections to help Lilly, a reward of £1,200 was put up by her son Colin and his friends for any information leading to a conviction of the burglars.
Mr O'Hara told the Belfast Telegraph that his mother was still devastated by the burglary but was reassured by the knowledge that there were still "good people out there".
"Our family is traumatised and hopefully someone out there will respond and give that little missing piece of the jigsaw of information needed to catch these people," he said. "One minute my mother is OK and the next she's away with it, crying and getting upset. But she doesn't want to leave the house that she's lived in for 60 years.
"We want to congratulate all those involved in the fundraising for their generosity and their support."
Mr O'Hara stressed that the information could be given to the police anonymously, just as long as it led to a conviction of those who stole the money and ransacked Mrs O'Hara's house in the Low Road, Lisburn, last week when she not at home.
As money was donated by hundreds of people online throughout the day, many also took the opportunity to send Mrs O'Hara words of support while expressing their disgust at the thieves.
Members of East Belfast Neighbourhood Watch were the first to begin fundraising efforts. They know Lilly and her family well as Mr O'Hara runs Captain Cod's chip shop in Stormont.
Former employee Martyn Irwin set up an appeal on youcaring.com which was shared many times on Facebook on Monday evening as money began to pour in from people from all over the province.
His initative is being supported by friends Dawn Avan, Kelly Bain, Karren Irvine and Lisa Johnston who arranged for collection buckets to be left at Thomas Cook in Bloomfields in Bangor and in Ards Shopping Centre yesterday.
The women are also arranging a collection along the Newtownards Road on Thursday. Dawn said Lilly's plight really hit home with them all. "We all know the family but it was just that Lilly was so old and frail and all she wanted to do was to leave some money behind to pay for her funeral," she said.
"It's just not right for anyone to take that away from her."
A bucket collection was also organised by Lisburn man William Donaghy and his friends. They will add their collection to money Leia Kelly has raised, which stood at just under £1,000 yesterday.
"When I saw what had happened to Lilly, I just thought that this wasn't right and somebody should do something about it. And then I thought, 'Why don't I do something about it'?," he said.