A MILKMAN who was slashed with a knife as his van was stolen in a shocking robbery is ‘amazed’ at the community spirit that’s seen more than £1,600 raised to support him.
Pete Watson was doing his rounds, as he has for the past 38 years, on Canal Street, when the incident occurred at around 6.45am on Wednesday last week.
The 59-year-old was deeply shaken by the incident – the third time his van’s been stolen, and the second theft involving his £12,000 Citroen Dispatch, which was found later that day in Lundwood.
With wounds to his hand and face, Pete told the Chronicle he would have to think hard about when he goes back to work.
But his spirits have been lifted by the hundreds of supporters that have seen a fundraising page garner more than £1,600 in less than a week.
“I’m still getting over the trauma of it, I’m getting flashbacks – I’m not so good,” said Pete, of Lugano Close, Darfield.
“Why do it for a van filled with milk? I can’t believe it.
“There was probably £20 in change in there, I don’t keep money in the van.
“You wouldn’t expect it as a milkman at 6am, to have something like that happen.”
Pete now faces the loss of not only the £1,200 stock that was in the van – which he’ll have to pay for, if a claim isn’t successful – but any lost income due to not being able to work.
“I don’t think I want the van back, when I do eventually get back,” he said.
“I’m going to sell it.
“The trauma of the first time is still ongoing.
“I’m going to have a few days off and see how I feel.
“It would be hard to give the job up.”
He didn’t know anything about the fundraiser, until Lauren Docherty – who set up the page – got in touch with his wife, Sue.
Pete, whose rounds cover Barnsley, Barugh Green, Worsbrough, Silkstone and Penistone, said: “I can’t believe the response it’s had.
“It’s that community spirit, all over Barnsley.
“On the one hand, I’ve met all these lovely people, and on the other, there are these scumbags roaming about.
“I don’t want to let people down.
“Then again, I don’t want to have this on my mind and feel I’m not safe.
“Everybody needs to keep their eyes out – it’s not just me this could happen to.”
Lauren, 29, of Eagle Avenue, Redbrook, said she was spurred on to help after seeing how important Pete was to his customers, many of them elderly and vulnerable.
“Everybody loves him,” she said, adding her in-laws had been customers for many years.
“People want to show their support.
“We originally set a target of £250, and then it got past £500 and then £1,000.
“It’s not just about money, it’s showing that people value him.
“He’s been serving some of them for years, and through a pandemic. A lot of people rely on it.
“It’s been very reassuring to see him still coming, whatever happens.”
Daniel Bligh, 30, of no fixed abode, appeared at Sheffield Magistrates’ Court on Monday charged with robbery and possession of a bladed article in connection with the incident.
Bligh is in custody ahead of an appearance at the same court on January 27.