A FAMILY'S faith in human nature has been restored after kind-hearted Watford residents queued up to help a nine-year-old boy, whose brand new bike was stolen.

Danny Phillips was "utterly distraught" after callous thieves took the new £100 bicycle from outside his home in Longspring, Watford.

His mother, Marion, who receives income support, said at the time, the theft had shaken her faith in human nature.

Her faith was quickly restored, however, when an overwhelming number of companies and individuals from the town offered to replace the bike within hours of the story being published in The Watford Free Observer on Thursday, June 13.

Marion said: "I cannot believe people care enough all I wanted was for someone to give it back."

After reading Danny's story, one woman even visited the family at home to offer them money to buy a replacement.

The Holywell skip hire company in Ascot Road got the chance to make Danny's day when they presented him with a new bike on Monday, after letting him choose the make and model.

Managing director Eamon Cullen, who was told about the schoolboy's plight by girlfriend Rebecca Gates, said: "We thought it would be nice for him to get the bike back.

"If you are an adult you can buy another one but if you are a kid you cannot do anything about it."

Danny was almost speechless at people's generosity. After a stunned pause when told of the news he said: "Cool. I'm really happy."

Marion said she was overwhelmed by the number of people who had contacted The Watford Observer offering to replace Danny's bike.

Benefactors ranged from pensioner Laurence Way, of Church Road, Watford, who gave Danny £10 towards a sturdy padlock and chain, to 13-year-old Ben Stockman, of Ivanhoe Road, who was prepared to hand over a mountain bike he had grown out of.

Ben said: "I saw the article and felt sorry for him. I had a perfectly good bike and thought he would like it."

Also keen to help were Winston Gosine, of The Harebreaks, Richard McCarthy of McCarthy Woods estate agent in Leavesden Road, Ijaz Akhter who runs the Viking fish and chip shop in Bushey Mill Lane and landlady Carol Freeman from the Devonshire Arms in High Road, Bushey Heath.

One man, who wished only to be known as Paul, said: "I just read the paper and felt sorry for the kid. It happened to me when I was younger. It was not nice especially as the summer holidays are coming up."

Simon Benson from Garston said: "I know what it's like to be a little boy and lose something very dear to you. In the photograph he had a very forlorn look on his face and I thought I'd like to do something for him. I am glad to hear other people felt the same way as I did."

Meanwhile, Danny is delighted with his new silver and black Raleigh Firefly.

His mother said: "He hasn't stopped riding it. It was like Christmases and birthdays all at once for him."

Danny added: "It's wicked. I'd like to say a massive thank you to everyone."

June 21, 2002 14:30