“THANK you – you saved my life.”
That was the simple message of North Nowra bashing victim Francois Beugels.
“I want to be able to say thank you to all those people who came to my aid last Sunday night so quickly when the attack happened,” he said.
“I know if it hadn't been for their quick intervention I wouldn't be alive.
“I know they saved my life and I want them to know that.
“To every person who did what they did, although I can’t remember faces of the people, I know their reaction was prompt and swift, which is why I am still here today.
“They were going to kill me.
“It was relentless, I had my head slammed into the gutter a number of times and was stomped on the head.
“I didn't think they were going to stop and if it wasn't for the residents who came to my aid I don’t know that they would have.”
Still suffering from his horrific injuries, Mr Beugels now has trouble with his hearing after the bashing and is covered in bruises, grazes, cuts and in some places stitches.
He said he had been overwhelmed by the community’s support.
“Neighbours, old friends and complete strangers have come and offered me help and support in the last few days, it has been quite overwhelming,” he said.
“I have had so many visitors, young and old, there has been so much support I can’t say thank you enough.”
He has been inundated with chocolates, cakes and even offers of the use of a holiday cottage at Huskisson.
He paid credit to Shoalhaven police who are conducting the investigation into his attack, but urged the public to let them have time to do their job.
“I know there has been a lot of reaction on Facebook and in the local paper and I know the people who did this are going to get caught,” he said.
“But we have to leave the police the time to do their job. They are doing their job well. I know they will catch them.
“I have had a lot of time with the police over the past few days and I must thank them, they have been very helpful and supportive of me and from reports they have been interviewing lots of people and are doing a good job.”
Mr Beugels said a special walk for him which will be staged next Monday evening from 6pm along Page Avenue in North Nowra was humbling.
Unfortunately the 76-year-old didn't believe he would be able to take part.
“I’m not feeling too well now and because of the trauma I’m really very emotional about it all and I think it will be too much for me to go Monday night,” he said.
“Every time someone offers me their sympathy I start crying. I always thought I was a strong and solid man.
“I’m proud certainly, and thankful that they are doing that.
“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It shouldn't have happened but these things do. But it is good to know there are a lot of good people around. I hope this type of action puts thoughts into people’s minds, who commit these types of crimes.”