Thursday, 19 July 2018


BURGLARS stole hundreds of pounds worth of clothes that were due to be sold for a

BURGLARS stole hundreds of pounds worth of clothes that were due to be sold for a children’s charity from a garage in Henley.

Charlotte Howard Mather, who lives off Fair Mile, spent more than a year collecting the garments from friends and was planning to sell them at the Fawley Hill Steam and Vintage Weekend on Saturday and Sunday, May 21 and 22.

The proceeds would have gone to the Thai Children’s Trust, which Ms Howard Mather has been supporting for a decade. She raised more than £1,000 for the charity with a similar sale in 2014.

She said: “It’s just such a horrible thing to happen and it nearly made me cry. This is a big fund-raiser and I was so desperately shocked and upset to discover what had happened.

“It’s sad to think anyone feels they have the right to do this. These people really don’t care about the effects of their actions.”

The 72-year-old discovered the theft when she opened her garage on Tuesday and found about one-third of the items had gone along with a number of her own possessions. There was no sign of forced entry so she believes the lock was picked. The thieves targeted the most valuable items, making off with mostly designer goods and those made from expensive materials like cashmere.

They also took a large decorative brass eagle worth about £600, an antique gilt-edged mirror and an empty safe belonging to the retired actress. Ms Howard Mather says more than one person must have been involved in the burglary and they must have had a vehicle because the safe was too heavy to be lifted by only one person.

The garage is part of a shared block and a few months ago some bicycles were stolen from a neighbouring garage. The block doesn’t have an alarm system or CCTV but several residents have now fitted cameras and additional locks.

Ms Howard Mather has reported the incident to police but doesn’t know exactly when the burglary happened as she hadn’t checked the garage for about three days before.

She was expecting to make about £1,500 from the sale but believes at least £800 worth of clothes are missing so her takings will be significantly down.

She said: “I collected all those items through word-of-mouth. I basically became a massive bore, constantly nagging my friends to hand over anything they didn’t want.

“The thieves knew what they were doing because they creamed off the best items and left the rest. It’s especially annoying as I spent the whole of last week washing, ironing and sorting them. There were some high-quality donations from people who had bought something for a particular occasion and never worn it since.

“It must have taken some time to load up with armfuls of clothing and drag that heavy safe all the way from the back of the garage. It would probably have taken three men.

“I have to laugh when I imagine them trying to crack it open because they won’t find anything apart from the instructions.”

Ms Howard Mather grew up in Malaysia and later Vietnam as her father Brent Hutton-Williams was a British diplomat. She supports the Thai Children’s Trust as she is keen to help alleviate poverty in the Far East.

She said: “People have been so generous in making these donations and now someone who doesn’t deserve it is going to profit from them. The charity helps people who are so poor they sometimes can’t afford a cupful of rice.

“We’re very comfortable in Henley and many people have no idea of the poverty and desperation that others have to endure.

“I’d like to think the thieves would have thought twice if they’d known where it was going.”

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