WHEN a pensioner was left devastated after an opportunist thief stole her pension from her purse she thought she would never see the money again.

But Markham residents showed the true meaning of community spirit by raising more than £250 for the elderly resident.

Lily Summers, 90, of Monmouth Walk, was upset when a thief stole around £80 from her purse inside her home while she popped out for a few minutes to deliver a newspaper to her sister Audrey Edwards who lives a few doors down.

Not wanting to see their neighbour in despair, residents rallied round to collect more than three times the amount which was stolen and surprised Miss Summers by giving her £232 in cash.

They also presented her with a bouquet of flowers and some chocolates which were bought with the rest of the funds raised.

Miss Summers said: “It is a lovely surprise. I have lived here for 23 years. I always make friends easily.”

Tara Fisher, 30, organised a collection box at Kym’s Newsagent, Abernant Road, which is run by her mum KymChamberlain.

This collected around £190 in a matter of days after residents donated funds and even schoolchildren spared their dinner and pocket money.

A collection made by staff at Markham Medical Centre added £65 to the total.

The residents organised for Miss Summers to go to the shop on Saturday where they surprised her with the gifts.

Mrs Fisher said: “I’m quite close to her and was horrified when I heard what had happened. I had to do something.”

Mrs Chamberlain added: “It just shows there is good people around. It was a united effort.”

The money was stolen at around 7.30pm on January 7. Anyone with any information on the incident is asked to call Gwent Police on 101.