Until a stranger’s act of kindness turned his fortunes around forever, Alan Barnes’s life had been a hard luck story.
Born disabled, he has suffered from sight and growth problems, never been able to work and his distinctive appearance attracts stares in the street.
When a mugger pushed him to the ground outside his home and broke his collar bone, the 67-year-old was determined to soldier on as he’s always done.
But local beautician Katie Cutler heard about the cowardly attack and set up an online appeal to raise £500 to help the unfortunate Mr Barnes.
As of today the appeal had hit £330,125!
Mr Barnes, who is very frail, just over 4ft tall and weighs around six stone, has been overwhelmed by the response from well-wishers across the globe.
The donations mean he can buy a house of his own for the first time and not count the pennies to get through the week.
And yesterday, he got the chance to thank Miss Cutler, 21, in person when she visited him at his sister’s home in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.
Amid emotional scenes, Miss Cutler gave him a hug and held his hand as they chatted on the sofa. ‘I am totally overwhelmed and incredibly grateful to Katie for what she has done for me,’ he said.
Mr Barnes said, ‘The youth of today don’t always get portrayed in a positive light, but I won’t ever forget what this young woman has done for me. This is the best thing that has ever happened to me.
‘I always knew there were good people in the world, and this has confirmed it.’