Hospice volunteers left “heartbroken” when callous thieves stole one of the vans that collects donations are back on the road again – thanks to the big-hearted team of a Pudsey estate agency.
Linley & Simpson, based on Church Lane, stepped in after hearing news of the theft earlier this year.
It responded to its SOS for help by putting the wheels in motion to donate £20,000 to Boston Spa’s Martin House Children’s Hospice to buy a replacement van.
And the keys to the new vehicle were picked up from Linley & Simpson chairman, Will Linley, by former Yorkshire TV and Calendar News presenter Christine Talbot, who is also a long-standing Martin House ambassador.
The hospice team relies heavily on its three vans to transport furniture and other goods across its network of shops throughout Yorkshire, or to collect donations.
The charity has already witnessed a loss of more than £2m in income as a result of the COVID pandemic and said the theft could not have happened at a worse time – describing it as “heartbreaking”.
Without wheels, it was unable to collect the full amount of important donations, which can raise up to £170,000 a month for children and young people with life-limiting conditions.
The vehicle was stolen from the charity’s furniture warehouse at Thorp Arch, near Wetherby, in January. Despite a widespread police and media appeal for information, it still remains missing.
“We are thrilled to be back behind the wheel, thanks to our friends at our long-standing charity partners Linley & Simpson,” said Stephanie Rimmington, Head of Retail at Martin House.
“Without their donation, we could have been without a van for months while our insurance claim is processed, adding to an already challenging situation amid COVID.
“By replacing the stolen van much quicker, our retail team is now able to get back out on the road, collecting donations to keep our retail outlets fully stocked, and generating more income for the hospice.”
Martin House has been a charity partner of Linley & Simpson for several years, during which time its staff have already helped raise well over £100,000.
Linley & Simpson chairman, Will Linley, said: “We shared the whole community’s shock at news of the theft. The fantastic work of the Martin House team touches the lives of so many people across Yorkshire, so we welcomed the opportunity to help.
“Many of our people have volunteered at the hospice, and our branches act as collection points for bric-a-brac that its shops can sell, so the work of the warehouse and the vans is very close to our hearts.”
The £20,000 donation is over and above an extra £25,000 that the agency is aiming to raise for the hospice this year in a series of charity challenges to mark its 25th anniversary.
Based at Boston Spa, near Wetherby, Martin House supports families across West, North and East Yorkshire, by providing support and palliative care for children and young people with life-limiting conditions.
It costs Martin House nearly £9m each year to provide this vital care which has been severely affected by the COVID pandemic for almost two years. Martin House only receives around 11 per cent statutory funding and therefore relies on donations and fundraising to cover the remaining costs.
Every year it cares for more than 420 children and their families, as well as around 150 bereaved families at its hospice, in hospitals and in the community. It is open 24/7, 365 days a year, whenever families need help and support.