Sandy fundraiser replaces charity cash stolen from Christmas house

PUBLISHED: 12:02 11 December 2017 | UPDATED: 12:47 11 December 2017

The fundraising Christmas display at the Wilmotts' house in St Neots Road. Picture: Martyn Beeby

The fundraising Christmas display at the Wilmotts' house in St Neots Road. Picture: Martyn Beeby

Archant

Burglars smashed open a charity box attached to a fundraising Christmas display in Sandy to steal the cash – but strangers have rallied to replace the stolen money several times over.

The burglary happened at the Wilmott family’s decorated Christmas house in St Neots Road yesterday afternoon, between 5pm and 5.15pm.

Mike and Gill Wilmott cover their home in festive decorations every year in aid of the East Anglian Air Ambulance charity, with visitors donating to the cause.

Police said a group of people thought to be driving a black vehicle forced the metal lock on a collection box mounted on the property’s front gate before making off with the contents, described by officers as about £150.

Posting in the Sandy Facebook group, Gill said: “Apologies to anyone who put money in our Christmas lights box for the air ambulance as it has been stolen.

“We heard a sudden bout of loud banging and by the time Mike got out there the box had been destroyed and any contents taken. It’s got two large padlocks, but they smashed it to pieces.

“Mike thinks they jumped in a car. We have CCTV but I doubt they’ve made their faces clear. In some ways I hope they’re not identifiable because I think Mike would swing for them – he is understandably so angry.

“Not sure what we are going to do about collecting – too upset to think at the moment.”

A online crowdfunder launched in the wake of the burglary to replace the stolen cash has already raised £800.

Charlotte Gill, who set up the fundraising page, described the Wilmotts as “two wonderful people who dedicate their time and effort to raise money for the air ambulance” – and urged the community to back the cause.

She said: “Please donate whatever you can afford, no matter how small, so their wonderful efforts do not go unrecognised – and help raise funds for a service that many may rely on.”

Members of the wider community have been unanimous in their indignation at the burglary, sympathy towards the Wilmotts, and joy at how people have rallied around after the incident.

Kate Bell posted: “Your decorations have been the highlight of Christmas time since I was young, and for such a good cause. Please don’t let this dishearten you, you’re amazing.”

Laura Berry added: “Well done to the good people of Sandy for rallying round. Good always wins!”

You can donate to the online fundraiser at gofundme.com/xmas-house-airambulance.

Anyone with information about the burglary should call police on 101, quoting reference JD/53816/17, or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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