A BEECHMOUNT father was the beneficiary of a Christmas miracle when donations from the local community allowed him to replace his son’s stolen Christmas gifts.

On Sunday December 21, just three days before Christmas Eve, Paul Martin returned from a trip to Dublin to discover his home had been broken into. The thieves had made off with his son’s Christmas gifts along with a sum of money.

“I had my son up for the weekend and dropped him down to Dublin that Sunday,” said Paul. “I got back about half seven on Sunday night to discover the house had been broken into.

“I was disgusted, they’d pulled everything out of my room. To discover that just prior to Christmas Eve was shocking.”

However, after hearing of Paul’s plight, neighbours got together to collect donations in order to replace the gifts. Local people went door-to-door and the charity drive was publicised on social media and soon Paul had enough donations to replace the gifts. Several residents and local business owners made donations of upwards of £100.

Paul, who’s originally from Glasgow and moved to Belfast two and a half years ago, described his “relief” at getting the toys replaced in time for his son’s Christmas day visit.

“I got most of the stuff that was stolen replaced. I brought my son up from Dublin on Christmas night and we made the most of it. He never knew because he’s only nine.

“I was just so relieved that I could replace my son’s presents and give him the Christmas he was looking forward to. I didn’t know that many people in the area before this but now it feels like I know everyone. I’m grateful for all the help from the local community”

Liam Morrison of the Beechmount Residents’ Collective, which publicised the fundraising effort on Facebook page, told the Andersonstown News:

“This shows the kindness and generosity of people in Beechmount. There are negative elements in the district, just as there are in any community, but the good in Beechmount far outweighs the bad.”