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Neighbours rally Kind locals raise funds for popular 83-year-old conned by a cruel thief

I can’t believe so many people did all that for me, I still can’t believe it. So very kind, it’s nice to be reminded that there are more good people in the world than bad.”

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Josephine Macauley who lives alone was conned

Josephine Macauley who lives alone was conned

Josephine Macauley who lives alone was conned

Inspirational pensioner Josephine Macauley is overwhelmed by the kindness of her community.

The sprightly 83-year-old was robbed by a cold-hearted thief who conned his way into her home on Grosvenor Road in Belfast last week and stole every penny he could get his hands on.

Leaving Josephine with nothing, her neighbours, some of them complete strangers, came to her rescue and collected hundreds of pounds to replace what was so cruelly taken.

As news of the robbery spread, disgusted neighbours rallied around her, organising Bonus Balls in the local shop and donating their hard-earned – and in some cases not easily spared – cash to Josephine, who was oblivious to it all.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she told us, “I knew nothing about it until Cathy from the shop came and gave me what was collected, and it was a lot of money. I couldn’t be more humbled or more thankful, I got a bit emotional.

“I can’t believe so many people did all that for me, I still can’t believe it. So very kind, it’s nice to be reminded that there are more good people in the world than bad.”

Josephine, who never married and has no family support network, said the incident had left her shaken.

“I was so upset when I realised I had been robbed. I felt terrible, I was shaking and I have high blood pressure. I rang my friend who told me to make a wee cup of tea with sugar in it but sure as soon as I made it the police arrived, they were so good to me, everyone has been,” she said.

The Belfast woman, who has lived in the Falls Road/Grosvenor Road area all her life, was left shaken and heartbroken by the actions of the callous crook.

“For ten days I had been waiting for a man to come and have a look at a leak upstairs. I waited, it was off then on and then he couldn’t come.

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Josephine with neighbour Margaret O’Hara

Josephine with neighbour Margaret O’Hara

Josephine with neighbour Margaret O’Hara

“The day I was robbed I opened the front door and there was a man standing there looking up at the roof. I thought it was him and said ‘Oh you’ve come to have a look.’ So I asked him in.

“He came into the house and told me it needed work and he would have to cut a piece out of the wall to take a look. He asked me for £120 for materials. I went upstairs into my bedroom to get some money and he came up behind me, I was really uncomfortable.

“I had £700 in my drawer which I never do but I was having a shower fitted, but the man told me it was too much, he got cheaper parts and gave me it back which was really honest of him. He gave me it back and then the other one came in and took it,” she recalled.

While her faith in humanity was quickly restored by her neighbours, she wants others to be cautious before letting anyone into their homes.

“He is a very mean man who did this to me, what else can you say? I could use all the bad language about him but what’s the point, what use is that?

“You want to have heard the taxi men over the road, they called him all the names of the day. And what they were not going to do to him if they had of got hold of him. But they wouldn’t have because I didn’t cry out for help – he was gone before I knew the money was. He must have taken it when I thought he was following me back down the stairs.

“He said thanks Miss Macauley, I’ll be back in half-an-hour, that was days ago. I don’t think he’ll be coming back anytime soon – do you?,” she laughed.

Josephine has been touched by the actions of those who know her and some who never even knew her name.

Life-long neighbour Margaret O’Hara said everyone was glad to help.

“There was a status put up on Facebook saying that a wee woman at the top of Roden Street had been robbed so I started inquiring. I was heartbroken when I heard it was wee Josie. I have known her all my life, I remember her when I was a child.

“She is a lovely woman, so kind, she really is the nicest woman you could meet,” Margaret said.

“I put an appeal out on a wee group I am involved with, Rab’s Homeless Advice Group, where I worked in admin and within 24 hours they raised £120 amongst them. I gave that money to Cathy Shanks who runs the local VG who had been collecting money from customers and running a Bonus Ball and it all mounted up.

“People are finding these times tight but it just goes to show how kind people are and that you can think of others.

“I know one wee young fellow who gave £200, he just got a job and said he wouldn’t be spending it going out so he wanted to give it to Josephine. It’s heart-warming that people can be so kind,” she said.

paula.mackin@sundayworld.com

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