Hartest grandfather thanks public for support of legal battle to bring grandchildren home from China
A man has expressed his gratitude for the remarkable help and support he has received from villagers and friends in a quest to win custody of his grandchildren.
At Christmas, Ian Simpson, from Cross Green, Hartest, won the legal right to bring his six-year-old granddaughter Alice back from China. She is attending the local primary school and is really well, he says.
Now he is fundraising to bring her brother Jack, seven, back to the UK.
Two years ago, Ian’s son, Michael, 34, who was living in China, was murdered by his estranged wife Weiwei Fu, after which the children were taken to live with their maternal grandparents in a remote Chinese province.
Hearing about what had happened, thoughtful neighbours in Hartest set up a JustGiving page to help fund Mr Simpson’s legal costs.
Mr Simpson’s wife, Diana, and Michael’s mother, Linda, as well as their extended family, were all involved in the decision to fight for custody.
Villagers, friends, family, businesses and other organisations contributed money to boost finances with fundraising events, such as an auction held in Hartest village hall.
And more support came when national and international media covered the story.
Mr Simpson said he has spent around £100,000 so far, including five trips to China accompanied by solicitors.
He said: “The support I have received from people over the past 21 months has been amazing. So many care, it’s unbelievable. It’s been a phenomenally emotional time.”
He added: “People have been really great; they smile and talk to you and ask you if they can help. We’ve received donations of clothes and toys, school uniform, a dolls house and a scooter. Alice is totally attached to the scooter.
“We’ve also had help from a number of Chinese people.”
He praised his village’s primary school, saying it had been incredibly supportive in helping Alice settle in.
“They organised for things to be translated,” he said. “Who would have thought that a primary school in Suffolk would have a school secretary who speaks Mandarin? That has been great for Alice.”
His grandchildren were told by their Chinese family that their parents were working abroad.
Mr Simpson has had to tell Alice that is not true. He is now setting about writing an account of what has happened over the last 21 months so he has a record of events to give to Alice and Jack.
Mr Simpson has urged people with children to make a will. “We would have had custody much earlier if there had been a will dealing with Michael’s wishes,” he added.