A man who painstakingly rebuilt his career following the Alcan closure faces ruin today after thieves destroyed his new business.
Chris Charlton opened his own newsagents with redundancy money after losing his job at the Rio Tinto factory, and thought that by now his troubles were behind him.
But now his new business could go under after thieves struck at the Bedlington shop, taking £1,000 in cash and a large portion of the shop’s stock. Three charity boxes were also taken.
Mr Charlton, 52, said he and his wife Irene had built up the business over the past two years and are now desperate to see if any insurance pay-out will be enough to help them restart.
“We’re on our knees and this could easily finish us,” he said. “We’re determined to fight back but we’re not in a financial position to replace the money that they took.
“When I lost my job at Alcan it felt like the end of the world. But I pulled myself back up and put everything into the shop which my wife and I opened in July 2012.
“We were so proud of what we’d achieved after such a dark time in both our lives but then some low lives come along and take that away in the blink of an eye.”
Burglars broke into the Park Avenue shop overnight on Friday, November 1, and police are now appealing for any information.
The thieves also stole Mr Charlton’s laptop, which contained personal and business files, before making off. After shutting up shop on Friday evening, the Charltons returned on Saturday morning to find the place trashed.
He said: “My wife is not in the best of health and she was inconsolable on Saturday when she walked into the shop to find it had been turned upside down.
“We’ve got CCTV cameras, but these guys are pros because they took the hard drive out of both cameras.
“They removed the bolts from a heavy-duty metal grille which secured the shop’s access and they also smashed the window, presumably to lift things out.
“I still can’t believe how much carnage has been caused.”
Mr Charlton says the worst part of the ordeal was the thieves making off with three charity boxes.
“These boxes were for the blind, St Oswald’s and True Heroes,” he said. “One thing’s for sure they certainly weren’t blind and they’re in no way heroes.
“Stealing charity money, in my opinion, is the lowest of the low.”
Mr Charlton, who refuses to leave his shop through fear it will be ransacked once again, is waiting to hear if his insurer will pay out the funds to help him restart.
“I’m left in limbo,” he said. “I don’t know how long it will take them to replenish my stock but we lost all of Saturday’s trading and we’re now operating on very low reserves.
“I don’t know how long we’ll be able to keep this up, but it’s a dire situation for both of us.”