REPTILES are known for being cold-blooded, but one tortoise has shown the world he has a warm heart.
Colin the three-stone Africa tortoise collected £600 in one day to help rebuild a typhoon-struck school in the Philippines.
With a bucket strapped to his back, he was the star guest at the Helen Thompson Memorial Fundraiser at the Plough Inn, Long Wittenham.
Miss Thompson, a teacher from Westfield Road, Long Wittenham, died just one day after being diagnosed with a blood clot on her brain in December.
A month before, the 28-year-old had set up a justgiving.com fundraising page to raise £200 for victims of Typhoon Haiyan as it tore through the Philippines.
Within days of her tragic death, her fundraising total had shot up to £16,000.
Her husband James, a builder, is now working in the village of Tacloban in the Philippines helping rebuild a school with International Disaster Volunteers using money raised in his wife’s memory. Colin is his tortoise.
Mr Thompson missed the memorial fund fete in Long Wittenham but said his thoughts were with everyone who had worked so hard in memory of his late wife.
An appeal on the IDV website to support the campaign in memory of Helen has so far raised £30,000.
Mr Thompson said: “I am amazed at the response from the public and would like to thank everyone who has worked so hard to make the event at the Plough such a success.
FLASHBACK: James and Helen Thompson on their wedding day on August 3, 2013
“Helen would have been proud of everyone.
“This will not take away my pain or make it hurt any less but it gives my life purpose.”
The charity party on Saturday, July 12, attracted hundreds and raised a total of just over £4,000.
Organiser and close family friend Sue Higgins said: “We raised a total of £4,060 from a raffle, stalls and collections.
“Colin, James’ tortoise, was the star turn – people put £600 cash into the bucket on his back as he slowly toured the garden.
“The fete was a testament to Helen and James.
“So many people have been moved by their tragic story and wanted to help achieve something positive in memory of a very lovely person, an enthusiastic and caring woman who died so young.”