‘I cried when I read her story’

Norah Stewart. Picture by Jane Coltman
Norah Stewart. Picture by Jane Coltman

A kind-hearted pensioner who donated £2,000 of her savings to help a mother whose disabled son was attacked by thugs and later died has been nominated for this year’s Best of Northumberland Awards.

Norah Stewart cried when she read the touching story in a national newspaper of Carol Hall, who was in danger of being thrown out of her ex-council house.

Carol shared the rented property with her beloved son Scott, who suffered Rasmussen’s Syndrome, for 21 years before he was beaten by two vicious yobs and died of a brain haemorrhage 11 days later, aged 28.

The paper stated that, with her son gone, Carol fell victim of the so-called ‘bedroom tax’, meaning her housing benefit was being cut as the three-bed semi was considered too big for her. She had already lost her carer’s allowance for her disabled son and could not afford to stay in her home. Her daughter Zoe set up a fund-raising page to help.

After reading the story, Norah, from Ashington, decided to help Carol – a complete stranger – by donating money from her savings.

Norah, who had chosen to remain anonymous until now, said: “I saw the story in the paper and I thought poor soul. I can’t let her be put out of her house.

“I lost a little boy, called John, when he was two-and-a-half, so I really wanted to help Carol, because I understand people who have gone through such tragedy. I cried when I read her story and I wanted to give from my savings.”

Carol was given a year’s grace and Norah’s charitable efforts, as well as others who rallied to the cause, gave her more time to find a new place to live, or stay on. Norah’s selfless actions have earned her an anonymous nomination in the Good Neighbour category of this year’s Best of Northumberland Awards. The annual event is a celebration of unsung community heroes. It is organised by Northeast Press – publishers of the Northumberland Gazette, Morpeth Herald and News Post Leader –and Tweeddale Press’s Berwick Advertiser.

Readers are encouraged to nominate individuals/groups in the county who go above and beyond the call of duty and/or show incredible strength and courage.

The awards are split into 12 categories. As well as the Good Neighbour Award, other categories are Sporting Achievement; Community Champion; Emergency Services Award; Role Model; Green Champion; Community Group; Child of Achievement; Fund-raiser of the Year; Child of Courage; Volunteer of the Year; Lifetime Contribution. To make a nomination, visit www.jpne-events.co.uk/best-of-northumberland/

The deadline for entries is August 27. A ceremony takes place at Linden Hall, Longhorsley, on September 10.