Sunday, 24 June 2018

Appeal launched after clubhouse raid

A VILLAGE sports club has launched a fund-raising appeal for a new lawnmower after its old one was stolen by burglars.

A VILLAGE sports club has launched a fund-raising appeal for a new lawnmower after its old one was stolen by burglars.

The thieves forced their way into the pavilion at The Dene in Hambleden then made off with the £7,000 Ransome gang mower, which was purchased last year after a fund-raising drive.

They broke several locks and cut through a barbed wire fence, loaded it on to a vehicle using a compost heap as a ramp then escaped through neighbouring farmland.

The incident, which took place overnight between July 1 and 2, was discovered the morning afterwards by groundsman Phil Rosier, of Hambleden Cricket Club. Hambleden Sports and Social Club, which owned the equipment, can reclaim most of the cost through insurance but there will be a shortfall of about £2,000. Paul and Rory Webb, of the village’s W J Webb and Son builders’ yard, have installed a row of anti-ram bollards outside the pavilion at a cost of £1,500. The club is now asking villagers for help towards these expenses. So far it has raised more than £500 in pledges and online donations.

Hambleden’s football, cricket and tennis clubs, which host fixtures at the site, will also urge members to contribute. Pat Aldridge, the club’s chairwoman, said: “This was a real kick in the teeth. I struggle to understand how people can attack a community facility. We are not blessed with funds and rely on a lot of free help so this is a real setback.”

It took two years to raise the money for the mower and the football club raised a substantial share of this through charity matches.

Chairman Adam Markwell, who also sits on the social club committee, said: “We’ve asked around but no one saw anything. There was a break-in the month before and we think that’s connected. Whoever did it knew what they wanted and came prepared with a large vehicle.

“We don’t have much money but we have to replace it because the grass won’t stop growing and there are lots of cricket matches coming up.”

He added: “It’s a major blow because we haven’t had that mower for very long. We provide a service to the community and it grates that somebody could do that.”

To support the appeal, visit www.crowdfunding.justgiving.com/hambledenmower or visit the Webbs’ yard off the village square.

As reported in last week’s Henley Standard, thieves stole several thousand pounds’ worth of gardening equipment from Henley Town Council.

They broke into the storage depot off Reading Road on Monday last week, making off with a John Deere ride-on lawnmower and groundskeeping buggy as well as a trailer.

Meanwhile, the council’s finance and strategy committee has also agreed to spend more than £15,000 on new front and rear mowers for a John Deere tractor used by its parks team.

The existing ones were purchased in 2012 but have recently become unreliable.

The replacement front mower costs £4,500 while the back mower is £11,300 including the part-exchange value of the old equipment.

The authority will fund this from its own coffers but will investigate the possibility of a grant from South Oxfordshire District Council.

Meanwhile, burglars twice attempted to steal tools and machinery from a property in Goring Heath.

They first struck at 3am on June 29 and tried to break into an outbuilding but fled when an alarm was triggered.

The thieves returned on July 2 but the same thing happened. A 4x4 was seen driving away.

On July 9, a blue 13-plate Isuzu was spotted waiting in a byway near the property. The occupants sped off when challenged.



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