Belfast Telegraph

Good Samaritan rescues Derry woman from broken down car and sorts repair bill

Gracie Young was overwhelmed by the help she received from Liam Donaghey
Gracie Young was overwhelmed by the help she received from Liam Donaghey
Mark Bain

By Mark Bain

A Londonderry woman has said her faith in humanity has been restored after a man she's never met came to her rescue after her car broke down in the city last week.

Not only did the Good Samaritan get Gracie Young safely to her mother's house after her Peugeot 207 ground to a halt at Crescent Link in the city, once he found out her situation he offered to arrange with his mechanic to have the car repaired, and said she could pay him back whenever she could, to get her vehicle on the road as soon as possible.

The local hero was revealed as Derry man Liam Donaghey, who told the Belfast Telegraph he was "only doing what he would expect others to do".

"If I help someone today then tomorrow maybe they'll help me," he said.

But Gracie (42) said she can't thank him enough for his kindness and "pay it forward" attitude to life.

"I was panicking," said Gracie. "I'd just come off the Crescent Link around lunchtime on Wednesday, in a very busy area, when the car just stopped and I couldn't get it going.

"I just put the hazard lights on and had no idea what I was going to do, but a car pulled over and a man I didn't know got out to see if he could help.

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"He could see what the problem was and managed to get my car going again long enough to drive me to my mother's house.

"I thought that was the end of it, but then he asked me if I had a mechanic who could look at the car. I didn't know any and just told him I didn't think I'd be able to afford to get it fixed for a while anyway.

"I'm back at college retraining in health and welfare so it was going to be a while before I was able to get the car looked at.

"I live on my own and my car is my lifeline. I need it to look after my disabled mother and help my sister with her children as she works long hours as a nurse.

"I couldn't believe it when he gave me his mechanic's number and told me to ring him, put it on his account and pay him back when I could. I have to admit I broke down in tears and Liam's wife came over and gave me a hug.

"She told me they remember how hard things can be and that Liam is always someone who will go out of his way to help people, but for me this was an incredible thing to do."

That still wasn't the end of the story for Gracie though and having been back in touch with Liam on Friday, his mechanic has offered look at her car free of charge.

"I was crying again," she said.

Liam himself is somewhat of a reluctant hero.

"I was only doing what my mother has always told me to do, be kind to others," he said.

"We got talking and after getting Gracie to her mum's her car was going to be off the road until it was looked at so I wanted to help.

"Me and my wife Majella lost three parents between us a couple of years ago and we know exactly what it's like to be looking after a parent.

"I called my mechanic, John Strunks, and told him I'd sort out what was needed to be done. When he heard the background he said he wouldn't charge for the labour. Between us we just wanted to do what we could to get Gracie back on the road.

"It was just a small gesture to pay it forward. I know I've had people help me out in the past so it's just what I try to do."

And it's not the first time kind-hearted Liam has come to the rescue.

"When we had the awful floods in Derry a couple of years ago it was just after my mother had passed away," he said.

"There was a lot of furniture in her house that needed moved on and when I spotted an elderly couple's story about how they had been left living upstairs in their home and they needed a new fridge freezer I called them and said I had one. She offered to pay for it but I told her it wasn't for sale, she could have it.

"It turned out she actually knew my mum and I know she would have done the same thing.

"We spend too much time worrying in life and if something as little as helping Gracie inspires someone else to do the same in the future then it's worth it."

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