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Oxford mayor sets up Ikeda fund

first_img“Traditionally the Lord Mayor chooses a couple of charities to support during the year,” she explained, “and this was one that was close to my heart.”Kentaro Ikeda came to the University in November 2007 to read for a Masters degree in Educational Studies at St. Edmund’s Hall. He was assailed by two teenagers while cycling home from the Teddy Hall library along Mesopotamia Walk in the early hours of the morning.The two pulled Ikeda from his bike, bludgeoned him with his bike lock and stole his rucksack, bike and laptop. Knowles and Mack, both 18, were sentenced in February to a total of sixteen years in jail for robbery and grievous bodily harm.Ikeda, who was discovered unconscious by passers-by, was rushed to the John Radcliffe Hospital where he underwent four emergency surgeries. He remained in critical condition for weeks before being airlifted to Japan.Oon, who was at the Radcliffe Hospital following the attack and met Ikeda’s mother there, described the situation as a “nightmare”.“When we finally got to visit him, tears rolled down my cheeks,” she recounted “seeing his condition: unconscious, his bright future dimming out.”Despite her faith that Mrs. Ikeda would “overcome the odds” to care for her son, Oon noted that “the fund would be very helpful for the family, for a mother who has given up her profession.”Asked if she sensed that the local community felt somehow responsible for what had happened to Ikeda, Clarkson responded, “In terms of the sense of guilt, it’s people out in the suburbs, in the town part of the city, that feel that.”Ultimately, Clarkson said she hoped that the fund will heal rather than highlight any tensions that may have arisen as a result of the incident. “I would like to think that the University and the town can come together on this and do what’s best for Kentaro and his family. If it brings University and town together, so much the better.” A fund has been set up for Kentaro Ikeda, an Oxford University student who was brutally assaulted last summer.The collection was initiated by Mary Clarkson, Oxford’s new Lord Mayor. She said the fund will be put to uses that will strive to improve Ikeda’s quality of life and ease the burden of medical costs faced by his family.Clarkson said the Ikeda family invested a substantial portion of their savings in their son’s education at Oxford, and are consequently ill-equipped to deal with the costs of on-going treatment.Although planning is still in its early stages, Clarkson hopes to raise money by holding an event in Town Hall and securing sponsorship.Friends and acquantances of Ikeda expressed approval of the plan. “I totally support the idea of a fund,” said Chern Oon, a postgraduate student at Merton College. “Kentaro does not deserve to be in the condition he is in right now; we can only help him and support him in any way we can. I am sure the knowledge that he has the support of family, friends, and the Mayor will help him remain optimistic and hopeful.”As the former ward councilor for Marston, Clarkson felt a special responsibility to the student, who was attacked in Marston by town residents. “It happened in Oxford, in my patch”, she said.She reported that Ikeda remains in a rehabilitation centre and his widowed mother has had to leave her teaching job to care for him.Clarkson said many of her constituents had also felt shocked by the attack.“The local community was just appalled,” she said. “People in Marston got in touch with Kentaro and sent him cards.”She added that a local Japanese family had initially suggested the idea of a fund a way to channel this sympathy.Clarkson stated that Peter and Mieko Galpin, the owners of the restaurant Edamame on Hollywell Street, brought the former St. Edmund Hall student’s plight to her attention. Through their connections with the Japanese community, the Galpins established contact with Ikeda’s mother and brothers and sent Clarkson an email, prompting the idea for the fund.last_img read more

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