Locals raise funds to help robbed retirees visit sick family
It was a box of chocolates that took Mr Roy Hobbs out of his way Monday and into the path of two female thieves.
Mr Hobbs and his wife Patricia, who live in North Rockhampton, drove to Coles at City Centre Shopping Plaza to buy Ferrero Rochers on special for his grandson Noah who turns ten next week.
Mrs Hobbs remained in the car while the retired underground coal miner bought a few groceries around 11am and began walking out of the centre with $63 change in his hand.
"All of a sudden I felt a knock on the back of my hand and the next thing I know they'd taken the cash and my bag which was lying on top of the groceries in the trolley," Mr Hobbs said.
He tried to run after the two females who had robbed him but couldn't keep up with them in the carpark.
"I saw him run out but I didn't know what was wrong," Mrs Hobbs said.
"I thought maybe he was trying to help someone else."
What Mrs Hobbs didn't know at the that time was her husband had a secret stash of cash in his wallet.
"My wife's sister was due to visit from the UK recently but she got ill and her husband was diagnosed with Parkinsons," he said.
"I was saving up to surprise Patricia with a trip to visit them next year so I was carrying $1100 on me."
Luckily another shopper who Mr Hobbs said started "yelling and screaming" at the thieves chased them to the carpark where she took note of their vehicle's number plate.
He understands the police tracked the women aged 19 and 26 down by 1pm that afternoon but by that time they had spent the cash.
The couple, who emigrated from the UK in 1971, lived in Blackwater and Middlemount before Mr Hobbs retired in 1977.
They have lived a quiet life in a retirement village in Rockhampton for 18 months.
Two of their five children live locally so the couple enjoy visits from their four grandchildren aged 19 to 28.
Their grandson Shaun Cannon of Allenstown began a GoFundMe campaign for the couple Tuesday November 13 with the goal of raising $2000 to help them complete their UK trip.
Mr Hobbs said he was surprised and delighted that people around the region had chipped in more than $600 when he spoke with The Morning Bulletin early yesterday.
"I didn't think people did things like that anymore," he said.
But that figure took a quantum leap later the same day when the team at Ray White Rockhampton decided to donate $1000 to the campaign.
"It was very very kind and most unexpected," said Mr Hobbs.
The couple now hope their health holds out so they can visit Mrs Hobbs' sister in the small Scottish town of Auchterarder, home of the famous Gleneagles golfcourse, in May 2019.