Ian meets Tunisia beach hero

Ian Spedding from Burnley (second right) presents Mathew James (centre right) with a cheque after a fund-raising bid was launched following the Tunisia terrorist attack. (S)
Ian Spedding from Burnley (second right) presents Mathew James (centre right) with a cheque after a fund-raising bid was launched following the Tunisia terrorist attack. (S)

A Burnley man who helped launch a fund-raising drive for a fellow gas engineer injured in the Tunisia terror attack has met him eight weeks on.

Ian Spedding, of Ebor Street, Burnley, met Mathew James and his fiancée Saera Wilson for the first time in Cardiff at the weekend to hand over a sum of £17,124 raised in the aftermath of the atrocity which claimed 38 lives, 30 of them British.

Mathew (30), a gas engineer from South Wales, was shot several times by the gunman while shielding Saera on the beach in the June attack and was hailed a hero for his bravery.

Ian, and several other gas engineers from across the country, felt they should fund-raise for “one of their own” to cover self-employed Mathew’s loss of earnings while he was off work.

Ian said: “It was an unbelievable weekend and a bit surreal. I’ve never had so many people coming up thanking me for something that I have done. I didn’t know what to say.

“I had a laugh with Mathew’s grandma, who said the fund-raising had restored her faith in English people.

“The family are a really fantastic bunch of people. It was a bit overwhelming meeting up with them all.

“Mathew is still on medication and recovering from his injuries, some of which will take a long time to heal. I think he’s hoping to be back to work in the next six to eight weeks.

“What was achieved in terms of fund-raising was great and I would like to thank all who donated.”

Ian, who also met other members of the fund-raising team, nearly did not make the gathering after contracting septicaemia and cellulitis recently while on a job.

He was laid up in the Royal Blackburn Hospital, but puts the illness down to the “trials and tribulations of being a gas engineer”.

He has been invited to the couple’s wedding, planned for 2017, and was put up in a hotel for free by Mathew and Saera on his trip to Cardiff as a way of them saying thank you.

A card given to him read: “Speds, thank you so much for everything you have done for us. It is really appreciated and we wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for the kindness and gestures of everyone.”