MIDDLESBROUGH – A Muslim shopkeeper rescued an elderly 87-year-old regular customer after she did not show up to pick her daily paper.
“I open the shop at 9.30am every day and she’s always outside waiting to get her newspaper,” Ali Aktar, owner of the Lifestyle Express store on Slater Road, Grangetown, Middlesbrough, North Yorkshire, told Gazette Live on Tuesday, March 7.
“On Thursday, she hadn’t been and I was worried because she’s usually there before me!
“She’s nearly 87 and lives by herself, and she shouts at me and tells me off for being late.
“She’s a nice lady. When I came in on Thursday I thought she was just late, but she didn’t come,” he said, referring to the customer, known as Irene.
At this moment, he decided to check on the old lady.
“I sent another guy who lives down the road and comes to give me a hand,” Ali said.
“He came back and said no one was answering the door.
“The second time he went to the back garden and knocked on the kitchen door but there was no answer.
“Then the third time he phoned the police and they came and broke the door down.
“She was on the floor and they said she had been there about 11 hours.
“I know she had a family, but her son died three or four years ago and she lives by herself. She just comes in her to buy her household stuff and her frozen dinners.
“I’ve missed her because she’s usually there every day when I open up.”
Irene, who lives yards from the shop on Birchington Avenue, is still in James Cook University Hospital. Ali says he believes she is in a “very serious” condition.
Running his shop over the past 15 years, Ali has been described as a local hero by residents.
“If it wasn’t for Ali then who knows what would have happened,” Debbie Tweddell, who lives nearby, said.
“He has been there a long time and he deserves some credit for what he’s done.”