Brentwood School’s thriving alumni community has pulled together to help an Old Brentwood shot in the head and critically injured during a robbery at his parents' restaurant on the Caribbean island of Antigua on Christmas Day.
Chris Tester, who attended the School between 1990 and 1997, is now back in the UK receiving specialist medical care thanks to a crowd-funding campaign which has so far raised over £105,000 to cover travel and medical expenses.
The crowd-funding page was launched to pay for Chris’ return (he did not have travel insurance) and initially aimed to raise £90,000. The fund-raising target has now been stretched to £120,000 to cover air ambulance costs and ongoing specialist treatment.
Thirty-seven-year-old Chris, who grew up in Brentwood but now lives in Torquay, Devon, was spending three weeks with his parents at their restaurant, the Boxer Shack, when the shooting took place.
He was immediately taken to Mount St. John Hospital in Antigua but the hospital did not have the facilities or expertise he needed, so he was placed in an induced coma and taken to the neighbouring island of Guadeloupe.
Friend Charlotte Williams said a group of school friends had "done everything" to "keep pushing this appeal". The link to the crowd funder is http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/chris-tester-urgent-appeal
In a Facebook statement, Chris’ family said: “Hopefully you'll have heard the fantastic news that Chris has now landed back in the UK - the only reason we've managed to get him back here safe is because of you. Each individual pledge, however big or small, was an act of kindness and care, but more importantly it has saved Chris' life.
“This appeal has showed us that the power of people and a crowd is second to none. And we are truly grateful. We believe with your continued support we can hit our final target. You have given so much already but we please ask you for one more selfless act of kindness. Whether it's forgoing your takeaway coffee and donating that money to our appeal or just continuing to share this project to those who may not have seen it. It all counts!
“Chris is now in the care of Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. They are well known for treating military personnel often with gunshot injuries, so we're sure that Chris is in the best hands.
“We would like to thank you all once again for making this happen. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”
Headmaster Ian Davies said: “This is a heart-warming story of generosity and lasting friendship which shows a continuity of community spirit long after school days. We are uncertain about the future for Chris, and he and his family remain in the thoughts and prayers of the whole school community.“