Brentwood School’s thriving alumni community has pulled together to help a former pupil who was shot in the head and critically injured. The incident occurred during a robbery at his parents' restaurant on the Caribbean island of Antigua on Christmas Day.
Chris Tester, who attended the School between 1990 and 1997, is now back in the UK receiving specialist medical care thanks to a crowd-funding campaign which has so far raised over £105,000 to cover travel and medical expenses.
The crowd-funding page was launched to pay for Chris’ return, as he did not have travel insurance. They initially aimed to raise £90,000, but the fund-raising target has now been stretched to £120,000 to cover air ambulance costs and ongoing specialist treatment.
Chris, who is 37 and grew up in Brentwood, was spending three weeks with his parents at their restaurant, the Boxer Shack, when the shooting took place.
He was immediately taken to Mount St. John Hospital in Antigua but the hospital did not have the facilities or expertise he needed, so he was placed in an induced coma and taken to the neighbouring island of Guadeloupe.
Charlotte Williams, Chris’ friend, said a group of school friends had "done everything" to "keep pushing this appeal".
In a Facebook statement, Chris’ family said: “Hopefully you'll have heard the fantastic news that Chris has now landed back in the UK - the only reason we've managed to get him back here safe is because of you. Each individual pledge, however big or small, was an act of kindness and care, but more importantly it has saved Chris' life.”
“This appeal has showed us that the power of people and a crowd is second to none. And we are truly grateful. We believe with your continued support we can hit our final target. You have given so much already but we please ask you for one more selfless act of kindness. Whether it's forgoing your takeaway coffee and donating that money to our appeal or just continuing to share this project to those who may not have seen it. It all counts! Chris is now in the care of Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. They are well known for treating military personnel often with gunshot injuries, so we're sure that Chris is in the best hands.”
“We would like to thank you all once again for making this happen. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of our hearts.”