Preston missionary praises good Samaritan taxi driver who handed in £750 in lost charity cash
A Christian missionary has praised a Preston taxi driver who went out of his way to return £750 in lost charity cash.
In the early hours of March 5, David Price, 73, had taken a taxi from Bilsborrow to Manchester Airport ahead of a month-long charity mission to South America.
The former Lancashire pastor had managed to raise £750 through local fundraising for a children's food programme in rural Argentina.
David said he feared the money had been stolen when he checked his bags at the airport and realised the cash was no longer safely stashed in his luggage.
He said: "I just went cold with panic when I checked my bags at the airport and it was all gone.
"It wasn't holiday money either, it was money we had raised to help a food programme in one of the poorest parts of rural Argentina.
"So I was just inconsolable when I couldn't find it. At first I thought it had been stolen, because I distinctly remembered packing it before I set off.
"I knew I had had it on me before heading to the airport, but I couldn't go back home otherwise I'd miss my flight.
"I thought maybe someone had snatched it from my bag in the airport lounge.
"It was a nightmare. I was just about to get on a plane and travel 7,000 miles to help the children in Argentina and all the money people had kindly donated was gone.
"There was nothing I could do. I was mortified."
But a cheery phone call from a fellow good Samaritan would soon calm his fears.
Preston taxi driver Alan Holmes had driven David to the airport that morning.
Alan, who works for the Cleveleys-based Airport Transfer Group North West, said his heart sank when he discovered David's fundraising money in the footwell of his cab.
He said: "I'd dropped David off at the airport and was already heading back to Cleveleys when I noticed an envelope on the floor.
"I couldn't believe it when I opened it and saw what it was. My heart sank because I knew it was David's and it was for a good cause."
Alan swiftly turned his cab around and rushed back to the airport to reunite his customer with the cash.
David said: "I was panicking, not knowing what I should do, and then I received a phone call from the taxi firm.
"It was the firm's manager saying his driver had the money and he was heading back to hand it over.
"I can't describe the relief I felt. Talk about thanking God."
Unfortunately, airport security prevented Alan from handing the money back to David.
But the taxi driver assured him that the money would be kept safe and returned to David on his return to Lancashire.
The honest act spared David's blushes as he sheepishly recalled how the money had escaped the sanctuary of his backpack.
"I had some crisps on the way to the airport", began David.
"I was a bit peckish and was rustling through my backpack looking for something to eat.
"It must have slipped out. But I am so grateful to Alan and Phil (Barker, manager at Airport Transfer Group N.W.) for the way they responded.
"They tried everything to return the money to me. Alan even went out of his way to park up at the airport and ran to the security gates to meet me.
"I just think they should be recognised for their honesty and integrity.
"It's refreshing to see a business go out of their way to do the right thing. These acts of kindness really restore your faith in society.
"Not only did they give me peace of mind, knowing the money was safe, but they also helped a lot of desperately poor and hungry people.
"They are a super firm and a credit to the community."
Phil Barker, manager of Airport Transfer Group North West said: "David has been a loyal customer for many years and we were delighted to be able to return the money to him.
"We understand that the money is going to a very good cause and I'm glad that one of our drivers, Alan Holmes, made the decision to go back to the airport to hand the money over to David before his flight.
"Even though airport security wouldn't allow Alan to personally hand the money over to David, we were able to reassure him that it was safe and the money would be waiting for him when he returned home.
"The relief on his face said it all."