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'Good neighbour' group launched for Howard and Mildenhall Road estates in Bury St Edmunds to help protect elderly after attack on pensioner




A community has rallied to support an 82-year-old woman who was attacked and robbed in Bury St Edmunds – with a ‘good neighbour’ group set up to help protect other elderly residents.

The pensioner was on her way home after withdrawing money from Lake Avenue Store and Post Office last Thursday just before 12.40pm when a man assaulted her and stole her handbag containing bank cards and cash in Tennyson Road.

The woman fell and was left shaken with cuts and bruises. She was taken to West Suffolk Hospital and two men have since been arrested and charged in connection with the incident.

Michelle Dawson, Hazel Stenson, Caroline Jones and Katie Parker have been prompted to set up The Good Neighbour Buddy System following a robbery of an 82-year-old woman in Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mecha Morton
Michelle Dawson, Hazel Stenson, Caroline Jones and Katie Parker have been prompted to set up The Good Neighbour Buddy System following a robbery of an 82-year-old woman in Bury St Edmunds. Picture by Mecha Morton

In the aftermath of the attack, residents on the Mildenhall Road estate launched a collection at the Lake Avenue Store and Post Office to help her redeem lost funds and buy her some flowers.

A separate online Go Fund Me page was also set up to raise funds for her.

Meanwhile, four women have organised a ‘Good Neighbour Buddy System’, which has brought together a network of volunteers who will walk with elderly residents on the Mildenhall Road and Howard estates to the shops, bus stops and errands.

The store owner said: “It’s great camaraderie and a great togetherness but that’s the kind of community they are. Everyone is quite disappointed and aggrieved that someone felt the need to do this to a defenceless elderly lady.”

In a Facebook post on Sunday thanking the Mildenhall Road and Howard estates for their ‘fantastic support’, the woman’s daughter said: “Mum was so overwhelmed with the comments on fb which we have told her about.

“Thank you doesn’t seem enough. Mum is still in a lot of pain, black and blue from the bruises but the family are all taking good care of her. You are wonderful people and we love you all.”

Tennyson Road, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Google
Tennyson Road, Bury St Edmunds. Picture: Google

The ‘Good Neighbour’ idea was floated on Facebook by Michelle Dawson at 8am on Friday and by 9.30am she, Bury St Edmunds Town Cllr Katie Parker, Hazel Stenson and Caroline Jones had met at Allison’s Eatery to launch the group.

About 20 people are willing to be part of the scheme and elderly residents who require assistance just need to call the phone numbers below and a volunteer will call them back to make arrangements. All volunteers have full DBS checks.

Katie, who has previously set up peer mentor schemes through work, said since the post office on the Howard estate closed, the nearest one was now Lake Avenue.

“All the elderly people are having to get over to the Mildenhall Road estate to get their pensions which is obviously quite tricky if you’re frail,” she said.

“Because of what happened last week, you can imagine a lot of elderly people being anxious and feeling really vulnerable and nervous about going out by themselves and picking up large amounts of money.

“Even though it’s an unusual thing, it doesn’t happen a lot which is why it’s probably shocked the community more. Even if it’s not that hugely used, we will help elderly people to feel that there’s support out there if they need it.”

It’s great camaraderie and a great togetherness but that’s the kind of community they are - owner of Lake Avenue Store and Post Office

Hazel, whose partner Max Clarke – a West Suffolk councillor -– has signed up as a volunteer, said: “The community here is second to none, with lots of really amazing people looking out for each other.”

Call 07590571617, 07979964333, 07812598163 or 07939208862.

  • Robert Duke, 35, of Broad Road, Bacton, was charged with robbery in connection with the incident and Kyle Haggerty, of no fixed address, was charged with robbery and fraud. They both appeared at Ipswich Magistrates’ Court on Monday and were remanded in custody to appear at Ipswich Crown Court on July 29.


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