An elderly couple were given the perfect Christmas present when police knocked on their door in Coulsdon, South London and gave them a new car.
Michael and Linda Gibbs, who have been married for 60 years, had been left distraught and struggling after a thief stole their battered old Austin Metro at the beginning of October.
Caring Met police officers asked colleagues and the public for donations to help the devastated pair, who both have cancer.
Overjoyed: The couple were so overwhelmed and delighted with their gift of a 2004 Vauxhall Corsa that they cried
Incredibly, they ended up with a gleaming red 2004 Vauxhall Corsa which was donated by Onodi car dealership in West Wickham. The car is believed to be worth around £1,000, and the couple were also gifted a £2,300 cheque.
A tearful Mrs Gibbs told the police at her front door: ‘You’ve given us our life and our freedom back.
‘When Helen rang to see if we’d be in on Christmas morning, I thought they were going to give us a little hamper.
‘I had no idea it would be a car. It’s an amazing vehicle with electric windows, wing mirrors and no choke. It’s amazing.
‘Make a note of our registration number so you can give us a wave when you’re out on patrol.’
James Onodi, who runs the car dealership with his father Tony, said they decided to help the Gibbs’ when they heard about the couple’s battle with cancer, as his grandfather had also suffered with the disease.
Kind-hearted: Met Police organised the car donation and the cash, with the Onodi car dealership in Kent donating the vehicle free of charge
Once they decided to help, Mr Onodi rallied help from other garages to fix up the Vauxhall Corsa. Phillip Reygate serviced the car, Alpha Detailing valeted it, Bromley Windscreens corrected the damaged windscreen and Euro Car Parts provided the materials for the service.
He added: ‘It just seemed like the right thing to do, really.’
Mr and Mrs Gibbs did not have the money to replace their beloved Austin Metro, which was stolen earlier this year. The Austin Metro is worth very little today.
The car was later found badly damaged and abandoned in a pub car park.
When they heard police were visiting them over Christmas they expected nothing more than a hamper of goodies.
However, they were so astonished that they burst into tears when a Vauxhall Corsa was left parked on the driveway of their home in Croydon.
Detective Chief Inspector Helen Cooper said: ‘Our hearts went out to the couple when we saw how upset they were. The car was their lifeline.
‘We had to do something to help them. So we all rallied round and raised enough money to cover the costs of the car’s insurance and MoT.’
Her husband Michael added: ‘We all had a good cry. I’m overwhelmed.
‘I’ve heard of wonderful things happening to people and we try to do our bit for charity, but I never thought this would happen to us,’
Forensic work on the stolen car led to police identifying 19-year-old Fabian Wilfred, of Coulsdon, Surrey. He admitted handling stolen goods and will be sentenced at Croydon Crown Court in January.