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Theft of nurse's bike prompts a wave of kindness; readers offer cash and cycles to help nhs staff.

Byline: IAN JOHNSON and KATIE DICKINSON Reporters Ian.johnson@reachplc.comkatie.dickinson@reachplc.com

THEY say there's nothing like the kindness of strangers.

Well, apart from perhaps the kindness of Geordies.

On Thursday we revealed how NHS student nurse Lily Richardson was forced to walk home from her 13-hour shift after her bike was stolen.

However, since then The Chronicle has been swamped with messages from kind-hearted readers offering to donate everything from cash to a brand new bike for the 21-year-old.

The sheer volume of offers has meant that not only will Lily's bike be replaced, but so will those of at least two other NHS workers who also had their property stolen from outside the hospital.

Among the offers of help was one from Simon Waugh, a 35-yearold businessman. Despite Lily being a "complete stranger", he and a fellow businessman have agreed to split the cost of a new bike for the nurse after reading of her plight.

"Some scumbag has obviously stolen it from outside a hospital, of all places, while she's at work - they are working mega hours to start with without any of that rubbish," said Simon, who, like the nurse, hails from Boldon.

"I just thought it was the least we could do."

The bike was stolen last Monday from outside the Royal Victoria Infirmary. A man wearing a hoodie and mask is believed to have snipped Lily's PS40 lock and taken it. Cars chased him but he escaped through the university campus on the PS600 Cube bike. The "mindboggling" act broke the nurse's heart.

"It wasn't so much the bike, it's the principle of it. They would have known it was an NHS worker's bike. It's just beyond me why they would do that," added Lily.

It was also beyond Guy Humberstone.

The Cramlington lorry driver was so disgusted to read of her plight, he posted it in a Facebook group he runs for fellow North East long-haul drivers.

"I just thought that it was absolutely terrible," said the 39-yearold.

"Things are hard enough at the minute, so for someone to do this is just dreadful."

Guy set up a GoFundMe page, raising over PS60 before his manager contacted him.

"He said he will buy her a bike and the money we raise through the page can go on accessories," he said.

Others have contacted The Chronicle offering their own bikes. One businessman offered to give Lily PS600 in cash to buy whatever bike she wanted.

One man even offered up his late wife's mountain bike, used just once before she died from a brain tumour on Christmas Day 2016.

And the sheer volume of offers means that more NHS workers than Lily will benefit.

She confirmed that an accountancy firm for medical professionals is replacing her bike, while Northumbria University has bought two bikes with bike locks to replace those of two other NHS workers who also had bikes stolen from outside the hospital.

Any other money raised from online crowdfunding pages and donations is set to go to other workers at the hospital, to buy bike locks or even bikes for those who want to stay off public transport.

Lily said: "I'm working with the hospital to see what we can do, and it will go towards something to do with bikes because they're really underrated. There will be people who would love one but can't afford it."

The student nurse has been absolutely blown away by the response. She said: "People have even been ringing the hospital offering to stand at the bike racks, which is so lovely. I think it's amazing. The negative of the bike being stolen is minimal compared to what has happened since.

"It just proves there are so many more good people in the world than bad."

An "extensive" Northumbria Police investigation has been launched to locate the culprit, with officers scouring CCTV.

"It is not the first time property belonging to hospital staff has been stolen and we have increased our patrols around the RVI in recent weeks so it is disappointing to receive reports of further incidents," said Northumbria Police's Neighbourhood Inspector for Newcastle city centre, Karen Madge.

"Our NHS heroes are doing an incredible job in the fight against Covid-19 and it is despicable that anyone would target them at this time.

"We know the community will rally round the victims of these thefts and we will do everything we can to recover their stolen property."

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Lily's stolen bike

Student nurse Lily Richardson
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Author:IAN JOHNSON and KATIE DICKINSON Reporters Ian.johnson@reachplc.comkatie.dickinson@reachplc.com
Publication:Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 18, 2020
Words:753
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