'˜Drone friend' steps in after 81-year-old's emotional plea

A disabled man's heartbreak after two boys destroyed his beloved drone has been turned to heartfelt thanks after a stranger bought him a new one.

Barrie Hay (right) and Hauke Gruen with the new drone. Picture: Stephen Goodger

Barrie Hay, 81, wrote to the Worthing Herald after a boy ‘deliberately rode over’ his drone in Homefield Park in Worthing back in April.

Barrie, who uses a mobility scooter, said the boys had been watching him fly the remote-controlled flying drone.

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When he landed the drone about six feet in front of him, preparing to collect it, one of the boys came out of nowhere.

One of them ‘came flying down’ on his bike and ‘deliberately smashed it’, he said.

He added: “Both of them went off laughing.

“That drone cost me £79 and gave me a lot of pleasure. Why do they have to do such a thing?

“Surely they can’t get pleasure from it?”

But after seeing Barrie’s emotional letter in the Herald, fellow drone fan Hauke Gruen decided to act.

Hauke, whose girlfriend Caroline lives in Ferring, said: “I am a fellow drone friend.

“The letter made me quite upset, I just thought what a horrible thing to do.

“I want to make the world a better place one bit at a time.”

So in a ‘flash of inspiration’ Hauke, a 30-year-old media director from Germany who lives in Twickenham, contacted the Herald wanting to buy Barrie a new drone.

The pair met on Saturday afternoon in Homefield park, where Barrie was happy to meet Hauke and receive the replacement drone.

Barrie said: “I am very surprised and pleased.”

Asked what he thinks about flying drones as a hobby, Hauke said: “I have had a drone for about four months, I wanted one for a long time.

“You’re really seeing the world from a different angle.

“I think many people are just intimidated by them.

”I’m a fellow enthusiast who just likes to have some fun with it.

”It is just a bit of fun that’s all it is really,” he added.

Barrie said he is not going to let the bad experience discourage him from enjoying flying his new drone in Homefield Park.

But he added his friend Simon will be coming with him as a ‘bodyguard’ to make sure the shocking incident does not happen again.