Pupils Raise £50K In Six Hours For Teacher Stranded In China After Stroke
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Not everyone looks back fondly on their schooldays, but I bet most of us had a favourite teacher - someone who helped you through those turbulent days thanks to their support and guidance, or maybe even by just knowing the right time to have a laugh.
Well, it looks as though Bob Allison was just that teacher for his former pupils, and they repaid him by coming to his rescue during what must have been an incredibly traumatic time.
The 68-year-old was left stranded in China after suffering a stroke, but his former students managed to help him out by raising an impressive figure of £50,000 in just six hours.
Bob had taught geology for 40 years in the UK, but opted to move out to China to teach at a Yangzhou middle school.
However, the teacher suffered a stroke on 4 January, leaving him paralysed on his left side - and doctors fear a high blood platelet count means he is highly likely to suffer another stroke.
Now they face an urgent battle to fly a 'confused and depressed' Bob back to the UK, before he becomes too ill to travel.
So far his medical bills have spiralled to more than £12,000 and his family say the cost of repatriation could be at least a further £35,000.
His daughter Claire, 32, set up a GoFundMe page desperately asking well-wishers to donate money to help the family pay for his continuing care and repatriation costs - and word clearly spread quickly.
Incredibly, just six hours after the appeal was launched online on Monday (15 March) more than £50,000 was raised by well-wishers and former pupils.
Claire, of Bristol, said: "Over the last few months of 2020, dad's health deteriorated significantly, and he suffered from confusion and several accidents, culminating in this stroke at the very start of this year.
"Since January, he has been receiving treatment at Yangzhou hospital, but despite two months of rehabilitation he is still unable to stand or walk independently.
"The stroke has left him largely immobile in the left side of his body.
"He also has a worryingly high blood platelet count, leaving him at high risk of having another stroke.
"He is also very low mentally, I worry that the longer he is left there the worse he will get. He is confused and depressed.
"He doesn't know why he can't come home, no matter how much I try to explain I am trying my best.
"It is the recommendation of the Chinese hospital that he is transferred back to the UK
as soon as possible in order to receive the best possible treatment.
"But, with borders currently closed and the Chinese Embassy not currently issuing entry visas, our best hope of getting him back to the UK is to go down an official repatriation route.
"However, with few commercial flights currently available and compulsory 14-day quarantine periods, this is likely to come at an extremely high cost.
"Unfortunately, my dad's employee insurance will not cover any repatriation costs, and is unlikely to cover much of his outstanding medical bills from the last two months owing to pre-existing medical conditions.
"Whilst we are yet to receive the final bill, his medical bills to date are in the region of £12,000 and the repatriation fees look set to be in the region of £30,000-£35,000, if not more."
Bob's former pupils and their parents at The Chantry School in Martley, Worcestershire, called him a 'fabulous teacher'.
Among those who donated was Julia Evans, who said: "Wonderful to see the depth of feeling for lovely Mr Allison. My boys had only kind words for him. Sending our love and best wishes to you and your family for your Dad's safe return home."
Another contributor, Sarah Burgoyne, added: "Mr Allison you are one of life's truly kind and inspirational teachers. Wishing you a speedy and safe return."
When the donations exceeded £50,000 on the GoFundMe page, Claire thanked contributors for their generosity.
Writing an update, she said: "This is so incredible!
"I've been totally overwhelmed by the kind messages and support I've received for my dad.
"I know he would be very grateful for the support too; I will save all of the comments and messages to share with him when he is home.
"I am so overwhelmed by the generosity shown by the community, we didn't ever expect it to take off like it has.
"We felt guilty for setting up the page, we wanted to find the money ourselves.
"But, with no end in sight and the mounting costs, we realised we needed help.
"I never dreamed that we would hit our goal in such a short amount of time, I am so grateful.
"This money will make a huge difference.
"It just goes to show how many people dad touched during his career.
"It is such a relief to know that we can now do all we can to bring him home.
"We really appreciate it."
Here's hoping Bob returns home soon to continue his recovery.