A BEEKEEPER who lost 120,000 bees to vandals has been “blown away” by the public’s kindness after a police appeal prompted a national fundraising drive which went viral.

Steve Cattanach found two of his hives in Carr-Ellison Park, Hebburn, South Tyneside,had been smashed up by vandals on May 27.

Police issued an appeal for information in a bid to trace those responsible, and the incident captured the imagination of Good Samaritan Nina Goudie – a student nurse at South Tyneside Hospital.

Moved by Mr Cattanach’s anguish, the generous 33-year-old, of South Shields, set up a crowdfunding page to try to raise a small sum to cover the cost of some replacement hives.

But what followed was extraordinary as more than 280 well-wishers from across the UK put their hands in their pockets to raise more than £3,000 for the bee enthusiast.

“I’m just blown away by the response. It’s nice to know there are so many good people out there,” said Mr Cattanach, 60.

“I want to thank everyone. It’s been phenomenal. I’m going to buy some new hives to replace those that were destroyed, and then put another up at Westoe Crown Community Hub.””

Miss Goudie was preparing to go to the cinema when she stumbled across the police appeal for information on social media.

“I saw it on Northumbria Police’s Facebook page and I thought it was really sad,” she said. “It was just mindless, such a shame – so I wanted to do something to help.

“I asked if anybody had organised a donation page, as I thought it would be a nice idea to raise a bit of money to help Steve buy some replacement hives. Everyone seemed to think it would be a good idea, but I kept hitting refresh and nobody had set anything up.

“So that’s when I just decided to go for it. I set it up and then went into the cinema, and when I got out, I had a look and it had already gone past £600.

“I was amazed as the total continued to grow, and I’m just so pleased for Steve. What he does is fascinating and very educational. He gives up his time for others – now hopefully this money can help him build some new hives and continue his work in local schools.”