Bereft rider happy again

SARAH DUNN
Last updated 09:28 23/11/2012
Rachel Burton
SARAH DUNN/FAIRFAX NZ
ROCK AND ROLL: Village Cycles owner Jim Matthews tries out Damian Aitken-Ross’ refurbished scooter while Damian keeps a firm grip on its replacement. Tash Mehrtens and Jan-Maree Ross are at right.

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Richmond schoolboy Damian Aitken-Ross has had his beloved scooter stolen and then replaced by strangers in the space of a fortnight.

The 11-year-old was given his fire-engine red scooter as a birthday present in July, and rode it to school, sports and on errands around Richmond. His mother Jan-Maree Ross said Damian was so fond of his scooter, he refused to keep it in the garage and stored it in his bedroom at night.

Damian said he was "a bit emotional" on November 2 when he finished school to find his scooter stolen from the bike shed. Jan-Maree waited until the weekend was over to give the thief time to return it, then took Damian to Richmond police station to report it missing on Monday.

She also posted a message on the "Nelson Online Garage Sale" Facebook page hoping parents might pick up on the situation if their child brought "some random scooter" home.

The post had gathered 90 comments when Nelson resident Tash Mehrtens suggested opening a charity fund at Village Cycles.

"I figured if everyone put in a dollar, the problem would be solved," she said. "I'd be devastated if it was my kid."

Village Cycles owner Jim Matthews said when Tash spoke to him about the matter, he thought he'd "just give the man a scooter". He gifted Damian a brand new blue MGP Pro scooter valued at $180 and set up a collection box on the front counter to recoup some of the cost.

As of Monday, Jim had been given around $50 in change.

Jim also received a replacement of sorts in the form of Damian's old scooter, which was found in some bushes near Richmond Pak'nSave last Tuesday. He is in the process of refurbishing the scooter, which has some scratching and may need bolts tightened, and will donate it to the Richmond Salvation Army "so someone else gets a neat little scooter".

Damian was thrilled with the new scooter.

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