A terminally ill north-east man hit by thieves as he prepares to spend his last Christmas with his loved ones says he has had his faith in humanity restored.
Neil Bremner is “beaming again” just days after his home in Banff was broken into by thoughtless thieves who made off with priceless family possessions.
And what originally felt like “the last straw” for the 44-year-old father of two has in fact highlighted to him once again the kindness of his friends, family, community and indeed strangers.
“The messages of support and help have come flooding in from the community,” he said. “The response has been utterly amazing. Facebook is full of incredible messages and offers. Our door bell hasn’t stopped either. It really does heal the soul to have this after everything.”
Mr Bremner, originally from Aviemore, was diagnosed with Leiomyosarcoma – which affects one in 20 million people – in November 2019. Living in constant pain, he’s aware his days with his family are now severely numbered, which is why the break-in was a particularly bad blow.
The culprits made off with a haul of belongings from the entrance area of the house including Mr Bremner’s medication and medical records, his beloved late grandfather’s coat, and all of his daughters’ coats and shoes as well as a new carpet cleaning machine delivered just that day.
However, since Monday morning the family have received countless gifts, a replacement carpet cleaner, donations, and countless well wishers to the door.
“We have had an incredible amount of messages, offers of financial help to replace items and help secure the house, help for the kids’ jackets and shoes,” he said. “We’ve been nominated for a cake give away from a lovely lady, and a community Go Fund Me page has even started.”
Among the donations are a replacement carpet cleaner, gifts for Mr Bremner and his wife Sarah, and a donation of jackets from Mr Bremner’s own doctor for his daughters Kayleigh, 15 and Dacey, 13.
“Poor Dacey is still a bit shaken, but we all cuddled up last night for reassurance,” Mr Bremner added. “A camera door bell arrived today, so that’s what I’m working on to give the girls a little extra reassurance.
“This has broken my heart, but not my faith in people.”
The former sales manager at Hawco and Sons Volkswagen says he’s also been bolstered by the support from his employers, who have supported him financially throughout his illness and this latest blow.
“They’ve been quite incredible,” he added. “For a small family business, running a very tight ship in the hardest of times, that is a huge effort.”
Mr Bremner’s illness has so far seen him miss a school reunion organised in his honour, while the virus forced the cancellation of a ‘North Hop for Neil’ event.
“Luck is not my friend, but it would seem I have the very best people who are,” he said. “I really would love to say a proper thank you to the whole of Banff community, my work, friends and colleagues.
“All this, when the world is upside down and every family has their own real issues to deal with. Inspiring just doesn’t cover it.
“I could never thank everyone enough for what they have done for my family. As I’ve said before, I have always been the ‘Happy Highlander’, renowned for smiling all the time, but life has made that just a bit more difficult over the last months, but I’m beaming again.
“I’ll keep smiling to the very last moment. Life is good, you just need to know what is important and what to focus on.”
A community fund has been set up for the Bremner family, donations can be made online.