AN ELDERLY anti-crime campaigner who was left at his ‘lowest’ after a car crash has been touched by the community’s support in getting him back behind the wheel.
John Hallows was driving his seven-year-old Kia Picanto near his home when what he described as ‘four youths’ driving a suspected stolen car on the wrong side of the road ploughed into him, leaving the car ‘totally destroyed’.
John, 82, of Riber Avenue, Athersley South, has worked tirelessly to drive down burglary and crime for nearly 40 years as Barnsley’s Neighbourhood Watch chairman.
“I was very shook up,” he said.
“I was driving at approximately 15 to 20 miles per hour slowing down for the junction on Wingfield Road.
“Then, a car came around the corner on the wrong side and crashed into me, wrote-off my car and ran away.”
Despite the shock and personal loss of his car, long-serving community activist John’s concerns immediately turned to the voluntary work he does and how the loss of his car and independence would affect it.
“I was without a car and no longer able to continue on with everything I do,” he said.
“To say I was at the lowest I have ever been would be an understatement.
“I thought it was the end of the world for me at 82.”
John lives alone as his family lives in Brighton, so he was worried how he was going to cope without a car.
But soon after the crash, John’s neighbours and friends began rallying around him to help support John, who feared he would never drive again.
They helped him move his stricken car – and even helped him get another one.
“Residents came out after the incident and helped the police with information, they emptied my car and took me home.
“Since then, lots of other people further up my street who I had never met have been to see if they could help in any way.”
Some of John’s friends even helped him financially in the process of getting him back on the road.
“One of my friends gave me £300 towards getting a new car after I thought I’d had my independence taken away. I was blown away.
“Then another friend took me to Grimethorpe to get a new car.”
Coun Jenny Platts, who has seen John’s work first-hand, said she was really disappointed to hear about the crash.
“John doesn’t just work around Athersley, he works across Barnsley and the borough with Neighbourhood Watch,” she said.
“John fits safety cameras around the area, attends and leads crime meetings, and if anyone has a problem, he’s always there to help.
“He is highly committed to helping people and is a fantastic person.”
John cannot get over the generosity and support he has had. It has helped him quickly organise a new car which he will receive today at a cost of £1,700.
“I have spoken with the police who are pursuing the issue further. I do hope those who did this to my car are rightly punished.”
A spokesman from South Yorkshire Police, said: “Two cars are reported to have collided, blocking the road.
“The occupants of one of the vehicles fled the scene.
“On attending the scene, police established that the abandoned vehicle had recently been reported as stolen.
“No injuries have been reported and enquiries are underway.”
Now, John is looking ahead to getting on the roads again.
“The support I received has once again given me a belief in human nature and I now have a smile on my face,” he said.
“Thanks to my friends and the community, I get a fresh car at the end of the week and will be back in action and able to get around.
“It reminds me of when I was very young during the war, and how everyone pulled together and helped each other. Long may that spirit last.”
  • If anyone has any information, please call 101 quoting incident number 463 of November 23.