Cab firm driving in to save Christmas cheer

IPSWICH: A kind-hearted local business has today stepped in to help rescue Christmas for a group of pensioners at a sheltered housing scheme after a thief took nearly �3,000 from their social fund.

The devastated residents at Walton House in Emlen Street were resigned to the prospect of having to miss out on their festive celebrations this year after Christopher Gummer, a former resident, stole the money when he was treasurer of the social club.

The 62-year-old, of Curlew Road, was ordered by a judge to pay back every penny of the �2,950 stolen, with �85 costs, after admitting fraud by abuse of position at South East Suffolk Magistrates’ Court last week. He was also given an 18-week prison sentence, suspended for 18 months on the basis he carries out 200 hours of unpaid work for the community.

Staff at Cabs Smart, based on Hadleigh Road Industrial Estate, were moved by the plight of the residents of Walton House in Emlen Street after seeing the story in Wednesday’s Evening Star.

Manager Ian Fountain said the staff are regularly involved in putting on social events for over-60s across Ipswich and wanted to help. They have decided to organise a Christmas party for them.“When we read the story in the Star we couldn’t believe it,” he said.

“It is very sad for the residents to have such a thing happen to them. That money was clearly so important to them.

“I just wish we could do more to help them. Maybe other local businesses will get involved and we could maybe buy them presents too.”

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Mr Fountain and the Cabs Smart team are planning a festive evening for the residents with a buffet, karaoke and fun activities.

Joyce Thompson, who works at the club, said the “wonderful gesture” would mean the world to everyone. “This will be a really great boost to everyone,” she said. “The residents have all been feeling a bit down in the dumps.

“It is absolutely wonderful. We have been so touched by how kind everyone has been.

“We have had so many offers of help with our autumn fair next month. People have donated raffle items and all sorts. I know everyone will be so grateful.”

n Do you have a message of support for the residents? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN.