Ian meets Tunisia beach hero

Ian Spedding (second right) and fellow gas engineers present Mathew James and Saera Wilson (centre right and far right) with the cheque. (S)
Ian Spedding (second right) and fellow gas engineers present Mathew James and Saera Wilson (centre right and far right) with the cheque. (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, 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 brave efforts.

Ian, and several others from across the country, felt they should fund-raise for “one of their own” to cover for loss of earnings while self-employed engineer Mathew is out of action.

Ian said: “It was an unbelievable weekend and a bit surreal. I’ve never had so many people coming up to me thanking for something 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 which I thought was amusing. It was obviously tongue in cheek.

“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 will take a long time to heal. I think he’s hoping to be back to work in the next six to eight weeks.

“I think 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 who jumped into action after the massacre, nearly did not make the gathering after contracting septicaemia and cellulitis recently while on a job and was laid up in the Royal Blackburn Hospital, something he puts 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 as way of thanks.

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.”