A sense of guilt over taking sixpence from a collection box as a child has turned into a £500 donation to Guide Dogs for the Blind.
The late Dennis ‘Dick’ Welham, from Bury St Edmunds, had often told his family how he had taken the sixpence piece (2.5p) from a guide dogs collection box as a child. So when he died in May, aged 83, his family had a funeral collection for the charity.
They raised £422 but when his widow Joyce, son Richard and daughters Denize Humphreys and Angela Aldous presented the cheque to Guide Dogs for the Blind’s Bury branch on Tuesday it had been topped up to £500.
Denize said: “Every opportunity he had he said ‘one day I’ll pay that back’ but he had this strong belief in not putting in collection boxes because he didn’t trust where it would end up.
“Today his family are proud that this has finally been done a hundred times over.
“It helps us to think we’ve done what he wanted.”
The story he told his family was that when he was eight he used to run errands for a Rev Hall of Preston St Mary and one day was sent to get two collection boxes.
Denize said he told two versions of the story. In one he tripped and sixpence fell out, in the other he used a knife to work it out of the box. He then went and spent it all on sweets.
Denize has discovered that the small coin was worth about £4.50 at today’s prices, so it bought a lot of sweets in Mr Freeman’s grocery shop in the High Street in the 1940s.
She said: “We can only imagine the curiosity of this shopkeeper who knew Dick and knew that he had never had a whole sixpence for sweets before.
“Dick raced home but he realised he could not be seen with his pockets or mouth full of sweets so he decided to eat them all.”
Bury guide dogs chairman Mike Clarke said: “This donation to Guide Dog for the Blind certainly makes up for sixpence he took in the 1940s.”