In the quaint town of Norwich, England, a cozy bookshop called Bookbugs and Dragon Tales opened in 2019 – just months before the pandemic struck. The owners, Dan and Leanne Fridd, managed to keep the shop open for two years before they decided they needed some help, so they started crowdfunding. When they saw someone had donated￡5,000 they were shocked.
“And we checked the name, and I sort of was like, ‘Russell Ira Crowe?'” Leanne told CBS News. “And Dan was like, ‘It’s Russell Crowe!’ And I was like, ‘No, it can’t be Russell Crowe.'” The donation was about $5,832.95 in U.S. dollars.
Leanne said they did a bit of digging and asked a mutual friend who has a connection to the actor. Now, they’re confident it is the real Russell Crowe, who has committed acts of kindness like this before. In 2020, Crowe paid for an aspiring actor to attend drama school by donating to his GoFundMe, according to People.
Dan and Leanne said the donation helped spread the word about their shop.
“People wanted to come in and say hello and the press were interested and we were on Australian breakfast television, which was insane,” Leanne said.
“It feels like such a weight has been lifted,” Dan added. “It’s not just the crowdfunder, it’s not just the money, it’s the way people come into the shop.”
They may never know why Crowe chose their business, but perhaps it’s because the couple uses their bookshop to help the community in many ways. They hold wellbeing sessions for adults and coordinate activities for kids. And they also run The Dorothy Amery Reader Awards, inspired by a local man who wanted to honor his wife with good deeds after she died. They chose to honor her by giving away free books to kids in need.
“Their parents are working really hard, but they just don’t have money for books and things like that,” Leanne said. “So, we ask for some nominations from schools and they recommend children they think would benefit and then we have a huge celebration evening and then we gift books to the children here.”
Last year, they gave away books to 30 kids in need. But this year, the crowdfunding will allow them to choose 50 kids. They’re also using the money to build a wheelchair ramp to make their shop accessible to everyone.
They said the reason they used the donation money so selflessly is simple.
“Someone took a chance on us. We are from very working class, poor backgrounds. We were certainly not able to have access to books to own necessarily as much as we wanted to as children and people took a chance on us,” Leanne said. “They saw the potential in us and we get to pay that forward through the shop by really believing in other people.”
If Russell Crowe ever wants to come peruse the shelves, Leanne and Dan are ready for him.
“He is a gold loyalty card customer now so he gets 10% off for life, should he ever wander in,” Leanne joked.