When she came to, the first thing she became aware of was the hard surface digging into her back, an adult throbbing pain in her left leg. She opened her eyes and saw the high rafters of the enormous ceiling arcing above her. Dazed and confused, she lifted herself into an upright position. Her right hand was balled into a fist, and there was something inside.
27-year-old London resident Ellie Farnfield taught fitness classes and was studying to become an acupuncturist in her free time. She was commuting from Red Hill, Surrey, to London Victoria on a train when things suddenly took a turn for the worse. The most frightening part was that Ellie didn’t remember anything.
Ellie was the epitome of health and had to be fighting fit at her job as a fitness instructor at Rabble, a social fitness club designed to incorporate team games into a fitness routine for people of all ages and fitness levels. She never displayed any signs of health problems or disorders until that fateful day.
On one seemingly ordinary evening in November, Ellie waited for a train along with hundreds of other commuters. She hoped it would be on time; she didn’t want to miss her class. She loved her job, and she especially loved to see the people who attended her sessions undergo personal transformations as she guided them on their journey to fitness.
But what Ellie didn’t know was that she was to undergo a transformation of her own that very evening. Finally, the train arrived, and she stepped off the platform through the doors and into the human crush inside.
She greeted the conductor with his smile and pushed past the throngs of people. At this hour, all the seats on the train were already taken, so she found a place by the window beside the other strap hangers and braced herself as the train departed. The train started to slowly roll forward, and the tide of commuters swayed backward, intensifying the crush of people in the back.
Ellie took a sip from her water bottle and marveled at the convenience of it all. What would normally be an hour-long trip by car would take just 28 minutes by train. In just 28 minutes, Ellie would arrive at her destination—or so she thought. After about 10 minutes, Ellie began to feel strange. Her mouth started to feel dry, and she was extremely thirsty. She became aware of a crushing headache that felt like an elastic band wrapped around her head above her ears, a tightening sensation. The sensation started to spread to other parts of her body, and her arm started to tingle.
Ellie started to feel light-headed and claustrophobic, and a wave of nausea rose from the pit of her stomach, leaving a metallic taste in her mouth. At first, she thought her blood sugar was low. She knew she shouldn’t have skipped lunch. She held onto the metal railing to steady herself. There was nothing she could do; she was on a crowded train, and she prayed the feelings would pass. Suddenly, Ellie’s vision started to blur, and she heard a whooshing sound in her ears. The darkness and dizziness crept from the corners, growing larger and darker. She tried to fight, thinking, “I can’t pass out on the train,” over and over again, until the blackness came, and she was falling.
She didn’t know how long she’d been unconscious—minutes, hours. She became aware of the weight of her own body, an immovable dummy made of flesh and bone. She concentrated and felt herself fall back into herself, and she opened her eyes. She was alone, lying flat. She lifted herself into an upright position and opened her right hand, and something fell out. Ellie immediately scrambled for her phone and purse, hoping and praying that nothing had been stolen while she was unconscious. Relief washed over her as she saw that everything was there. She immediately scrambled for her phone: 20 missed calls.
She looked at her call log and saw that 14 outgoing calls had been made, but she didn’t remember making them. Then Ellie looked down and was startled to see two paper objects had fallen out of her hand. She leaned over carefully and picked them up. One was a crumpled piece of paper, and on it was a note scrawled hastily in blue ink: “What happened to her?” The last memory she had was feeling ill on the train and the awful falling sensation. A feeling of dread washed over her as she started to read: “Eleanor, I hope by the time you read this you’re feeling better.”
Ellie continued with eyes wide in disbelief. “You had a seizure on the train, and I took you off. You didn’t hit your head, but I may have hurt your leg as I walked on it before realizing you were on the floor having a fit. Sorry.” So, she’d had a seizure on the train. She read on, hoping to piece together the rest of the puzzle.
“I’m also sorry I can’t stay with you now, but here’s a coffee to perk you up later.” The note continued, “Ellie looks to her left and sees that there is indeed a cup of coffee in a paper cup sitting next to her, and £10 to make sure you get a taxi home. Sorry, I don’t have any more money, so I hope you don’t live far away. I’ve contacted people from your phone, and medical help is on its way, and you’re with train staff. Wishing you all the best in a quick recovery. Love, Tom.”
Who’s Tom? Does Ellie know him? Why would a stranger be so kind to someone he’s never met? It was then that she realized just how lucky she was to have a guardian angel looking out for her that day. “I was very confused, and I saw the note and the money and felt quite emotional. It was such a thoughtful thing to do,” she recalls. “Anything could have happened. I could have hit my head, fallen off the train, been there for a long, long time.”
As soon as Ellie had recovered from her ordeal, she knew that there was something she needed to do. Ellie wrote about the mystery Good Samaritan who’d helped her when she needed it most in a Facebook post. “Please like or share: Faith restored in humanity in London last night. Thank you so much to everyone who helped me last night, especially Tom. Would love to try and find this man so I can return his money and add many, many things to it.”
Since Ellie posted her heartfelt message, the story has gone viral, with thousands of people sharing it in hopes that the mysterious Tom comes forward. “Everyone thinks Tom is great. There’s been lots of speculation about who he might be, what he does, what he looks like, and friends shotgunning him as their future boyfriend,” Ellie said in an interview.
When asked what Ellie will say to the man who helped her, she replied, “I just want to thank Tom for his help. I’ll tell him, ‘You’re a star, and I really, really appreciate it.’ I’d also like to return the money. There’s something really lovely about the kindness of a stranger. If I meet him, drinks are on me.”
So, did Ellie ever find him? Unfortunately, even after four years, the mysterious Tom has not yet come forward. Ellie even started a campaign on Twitter called #FindTrainTom in the hopes of tracking him down. But it seems the elusive Tom wishes to remain anonymous.
A spokesperson for Southern, the train operator of the train Ellie was on that fateful day, acknowledges Tom’s act of kindness. “This would have been a frightening experience, but thanks to our Good Samaritan, this young lady woke up in good hands with the taxi fare home. It just goes to show that there are Good Samaritans all around us.”