Littlehampton vegetable theft victim ‘astounded’ by offer of free fish and chips for life and global support

A vegetable theft victim from Littlehampton said he was ‘astounded’ by an offer of free fish and chips for life and the support he had received across the globe.

When Bill Mason’s vegetables were cruelly stolen from his allotment, the pensioner said he was on the verge of tears.

DM1971621a.jpg. Thieves steal vegetables from Bill Mason's allotment on Worthing Road in Littlehampton. Photo by Derek Martin Photography. SUS-190907-164537008

DM1971621a.jpg. Thieves steal vegetables from Bill Mason's allotment on Worthing Road in Littlehampton. Photo by Derek Martin Photography. SUS-190907-164537008

But what a difference a week makes, after the 76-year-old was inundated with offers of support from across the world.

Bill, from Gloucester Place, Littlehampton, said it was ‘astounding’ that people had reacted in such a way to his story.

He said: “It has made me realise human nature isn’t quite as bad as I thought.”

The avid gardener went to his allotment plots in Worthing Road, Littlehampton, on Tuesday, July 2, to find that half of his potato crop had been stolen, as well as spring onions, beetroot, cabbages, lettuce, rhubarb and celeriac he had grown to feed him and his partner through the winter.

After the Gazette reported Bill’s plight last week, many people contacted the paper asking to donate money to him – including Lindsey Kang from Austin, Texas, who wanted to help so Bill could ‘replace his food stores and perhaps have enough to keep gardening for next year’.

In response, Bill said he did not want to accept any charity.

He said: “I was brought up after the war; we looked after ourselves and we still look after ourselves.

“But I would like to thank everybody for their support.

“If the council puts up some security fences around the allotment, I would be more than pleased.”

Bill’s story resonated with Shayne Miller, owner of My Plaice fish and chips, whose mobile takeaway business was almost destroyed when his van was stolen on Father’s Day. The 49-year-old from Arundel has offered Bill and his partner free fish and chips each week for life.

He said: “All the time I can breathe and work, I will give that chap a free meal.”

Bill said he was enjoying his 15 minutes of fame, with people stopping him the street and various television and radio appearances.

He said: “I’m a celebrity for a day, I guess!”