Lucy Knight says her health is "pretty good" nearly a year after the mother-of-six came to the aid of an elderly woman being attacked by a teenage bag-snatcher.

The teen turned on her and hit her in the head, causing her to fall.

She underwent major surgery to stop bleeding on the brain. She is still undergoing rehabilitation and has an operation coming up to remove screws and a plate.

An appeal on online fundraising site Givealittle raised $269,934 for her recovery - second only to an appeal to aid Nepal's earthquake recovery.

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Today, a Weekend Herald special report examines the online charity phenomenon, which has seen millions of dollars raised on sites like Givealittle.

Mrs Knight said the donations had made her recovery so much smoother because it had removed financial stress.

As a brain-injury patient she was repeatedly told of the importance of reducing stress. The donations meant the family didn't need to panic when unexpected bills came in.

Her husband Peter, a teacher, had to take a long period off work to look after their children.

"It meant he didn't have to worry how we were going to pay the bills, the mortgage."

The money meant the family could stay in motels during a South Island holiday.

"It is absolutely unprecedented that we could afford to do that with all the kids. They'd never been to the South Island. It was amazing family time, reassuring all the kids that everything was okay."

She is unsurprisingly a fan of online charity platforms, which have had many successes but also some bad publicity over controversial attempts at fundraising.

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"There are some amazing [causes] ... people needing help for their children, needing operations. It's so wonderful that that is available - so long as the Government doesn't think that's our new health system!

"It is still amazing to me that so many people want to help. I've tried to read through the messages from people who donated, and there are over 5000 of them, and it reduces me to tears."

Givealittle organisers said her actions "struck a chord ... as people were both shocked at what happened to her and at the same time proud of what she did".

It is a year next month since she was injured and life is approaching normality, though she says getting through the day can still be a struggle.

"I get through the basics of a day but throw in something extra and it can be quite overwhelming. Getting the kids ready in the morning - if someone is missing a sock, it can turn into a catastrophe."

She plans to give some of the money to charity "to pay it forward".