AN APPEAL has been launched after heartless thieves stole £10,000 worth of equipment from the Church Hill Allotments, leaving plot-holders with nothing.
The raiders struck between last Monday night and Tuesday morning, snapping locks on the site’s three storage containers.
The first housed tools, including rotavators worth thousands of pounds, strimmers and other items.
The second contained consumables, including seeds, soil and bulbs – again all the items were stolen.
The third building – containing water and pumps – was also completely emptied meaning even if members could work on their plots, they would have no way of watering them,
Because the allotments do not have an independent supply, water is collected from the lake and stored for people to use.
Stephen Betteridge, the chairman of the Church Hill Allotments Association, said the theft was ‘absolutely hearbreaking’.
“There are 80 plot holders and some of them are aged over 80 and 90 – these allotments are their lives and they have lost everything.
“Some come down here at 7am every morning, seven-days-a-week, and stay until nightfall, even cooking their dinners in their sheds.
“As well as providing good quality produce, the allotments are key to their wellbeing – they get lots of fresh air and exercise and are doing something they love.”
He added the tools would take thousands of pounds to replace but those selling them would get next to nothing.
The Church Hill Allotments Association has appealed to people for any older equipment they could spare or cash donations to help buy items.
We at The Standard helped launch the plea on our website and Mr Betteridge added he had been ‘gobsmacked’ by people’s generosity and the amount donated so far.
After being approached by Coun Bill Hartnett, Redditch Borough Council has provided a petrol strimmer, garden forks, garden spades trowels, saw and a rotovator. Coun Jo Monks is using £500 of her divisional fund and around £80 has been donated via a fund-raising page.
Coun Hartnett said: “When I heard about the break in I was shocked and I wrote an e-mail to the council asking if they had any old or used garden tools the council no longer required orr used, I was very pleased and grateful to the council for the kind donations of tools and equipment to the Church Hill Allotments.”
Mr Betteridge said: “The appeal has got off to a great start and we want to thank everyone who has donated so far – we are touched.
“Anything else anyone can spare – no matter how large or small – would be welcome.”
He said one item desperately needed was a 3-inch water pump.
Insp Rich Field, from Redditch Police SNT, said “I am very aware of the impact this has on allotment holders as tools and specialist equipment such as Rotavators are extremely expensive to replace and are often passed down through generations of families.”
He urged anyone with information, dash cam footage of the area or CCTV to call the police on 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Anyone who can help with equipment should call Stephen on 07811 167620 or visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/CHAllotments/ to donate to the fund-raising page.