Nurse Fined $200 For Giving Away Free Apples

Urgent Letter

The misery of 2020 was starting to get her down. Despite doing everything she could in her role as a nurse, the kind-hearted woman wanted to do more for the community.

So when she found a letter after leaving apples out for her neighbors, she thought spreading a little positivity had paid off with a nice thank-you note - but she couldn’t have been more wrong.

Desperate To Help

No one could have asked for more from Lydia Farrell. The 33-year-old was already going above and beyond as a nurse during the pandemic, so if anything, you would have thought the community would be delivering care packages to her, not the other way around.

Lydia was concerned about the growing pessimism of the current climate and wanted to make a gesture that would bring people together. But no one could have guessed it would lead to a court summons.

Kind Gesture

Lydia was already burning the candle at both ends with her work at the hospital, so she set her mind to coming up with something else she could do without exhausting herself.

Then it hit her! Something nice she could do for her neighbors that would actually make her own life a little easier. Lydia went out into her back yard and started counting.

More Than Enough

The apple tree in Lydia’s garden was brimming with fruit, way more than she could eat herself. If she didn’t give them away, she would have to throw them out.

“The apples had been dropping on to our decking where they rot away. So we got the idea of picking them from the tree and putting them outside for people to take.” But what seemed like a sweet idea would quickly turn sour.

Feed The World

With a big smile on her face, Lydia filled a barrel with fresh apples from the tree. It felt good to have found a way to not only help the sick in her community but also feed the hungry too!

She placed the barrel against the wall outside her home and added a sign so residents knew they were free to help themselves. Then disaster struck.

Heartless Thieves

Lydia had gone away for a couple of days, but when she returned she found that someone had forced their way into her garden and broke their fence.

Fortunately, the would-be thieves didn’t manage to get into the house. But knowing someone had tried made Lydia feel vulnerable, especially after opening her heart to the local community with the free apples. She promptly reported the crime and it wasn’t long before a letter arrived on the doorstep.

Quick Response

When she first saw the letter on her doorstep, Lydia wondered if it was someone in the local area reaching out about her little apple project.

But as she turned it over and saw the official government stamp on the envelope, it was clear this must have been about the crime she reported. “That was fast!” thought Lydia.

Rude Awakening

But the letter didn’t pertain to the criminal activity in her backyard at all. In fact, the worrying correspondence was actually accusing her of a crime.

She read over the letter several times to check they’d got the right person. The community-minded nurse was being summonsed to court. And that wasn’t even the half of it.

Pay Up!

Lydia had been ordered to pay £150 ($195) by Ealing Council as a punishment for leaving the apples out for passers-by to snack on.

"Someone had forced entry into our back garden and broken our fence," she told "So two real crimes were committed by other people and I'm the only one who gets fined!” But the nurse wasn’t going to take it lying down.


Lydia’s intention was not only to help families that were struggling for food but also to lift spirits by making a gesture that might lead others to do something kind.

She would never have dreamed that a government official would see what she was doing and react with legal action. And the law she is said to have broken is even harder to believe.


The letter accused Lydia of “fly-tipping”, a crime that refers to the illegal dumping of waste. This usually concerns construction waste or perhaps unwanted appliances like refrigerators. 

Residents will sometimes get this fine for leaving large waste items outside their property expecting the garbage collectors to deal with it. But of course, posting a fine for a barrel of apples was clearly ridiculous. And luckily, Lydia wasn’t the only one who thought so.

Spreading The Word

Lydia posted her grievances on social media. "Feeling disheartened... The council has fined us £150 for 'fly-tipping' because we've been leaving free apples outside our house in cardboard boxes (because people were taking the pots!)

"A good deed unfortunately gone wrong." And soon enough, Ealing Council in west London would have no choice but to make an official statement.

Public Support

As soon as she posted what happened, locals quickly rallied around her. After Lydia’s garden was broken into, apple pots were stolen and the council fined her for trying to help the community, she’d started to lose her faith in humanity.

But social media users soon restored the feeling that she wasn’t the only one trying to do the right thing. 


"This is a really really good deed!” one commenter said. “Loads of homeless people in need of food, kids going hungry and people struggling financially, so to offer free food to anyone is really good.

"Can't believe they're fining you £150! Is it definitely real and not some scammer trying it on?" Good question! But a statement from the council soon cleared that up.

Big Mistake

Ealing Council received several direct complaints after residents found out what they did, forcing them to withdraw the fine. "The council recognizes that the spirit of the residents' actions was with good intentions,” a spokesperson said. “We will be in touch with Ms. Farrell to rescind the fine.”

Fortunately, Lydia hasn’t been dissuaded. Soon she’ll be offering passion fruit along with her free apples - only this time the basket will be firmly attached to the wall. Hasn’t local government got better things to do right now?