Hundreds of people touched by the tragic death of four-year-old Keighley twin Riley Turner turned out to a fundraising event at the weekend that generated thousands of pounds for his devastated family.
Organisers of the auction at the Bracken Arms pub, not far from where Riley lived on the town’s Bracken Bank estate, said they were overwhelmed by the response.
Keighley Mayor Councillor George Metcalf, who helped count the funds, which look set to top £7,000, praised people’s “fantastic community spirit” following Riley’s death, for which a 32-year-old man has been charged with murder.
Signed Bradford City shirts, a signed Leeds United flag, Manchester United memorabilia and a moped were among the 160 lots – which also included a shirt worn by Keighley pool champion Chris Melling at the recent Mosconi Cup final.
Donations of lots and raffle prizes came from businesses and organisations close to home but also further afield from Skipton, Ilkley, Bradford and Leeds.
One woman in Australia sent a cash donation after reading about the fundraiser on its Facebook event page.
A local butcher provided pies for the event.
Toni Shipley got together with her friends Emma McDonnell and Nadine Ward to organise the auction and raffle day as a way for the horrified community to show its support for Riley’s family.
“We’ve all been touched by what happened and felt helpless, but the fundraiser was one way we could at least do something to try and help Riley’s family at this terrible time,” said Miss Shipley.
It was the community’s first chance to show united sympathy since Riley’s death on January 20 at his home in Harewood Road, where he lived with his identical twin brother Kenzie, mother Sharon Smith, and stepfather, Guy Earwaker.
Speaking at the fundraiser on Saturday afternoon, Miss Shipley, 25, said: “We didn’t expect the event to be so big, but people have just kept giving and just kept turning up.
“This is a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone, there’s lots of people from the estate, but there are as many faces we’ve never seen before, which just shows how people from all over the district have been moved and affected by what happened.”
Coun Metcalf, who was at the auction, returned yesterday to help organisers count the takings.
He said: “I’m very honoured to have been involved in this fundraiser and support these girls who have organised it and done a brilliant job. The community spirit that has been generated here to rally round and help Riley’s family is fantastic.”
Anwar Rosser, 32, of Harewood Road, who has been charged with Riley’s murder, has been remanded in custody to appear before Bradford Crown Court in April for a plea hearing.