Police are appealing to kind-hearted residents in a bid to save Christmas after vandals stole essential equipment from a sleigh.
The sleigh, which is used to raise funds the Rotary Club in Sutton-in-Ashfield, allows the team to travel around the local area and bring the festive spirit to children nearby.
Rotary Club member Allan Broughton was shocked when he found that it had been damaged and that thieves had taken the generator and battery power unit from George Street, Sutton-in-Ashfield.
Mr Broughton himself has played the role of Father Christmas during these trips on numerous occasions and said: “Seeing the children’s faces light up when they come across the sleigh is a highlight every Christmas.
“I couldn’t believe it when I saw what had happened to the sleigh. The generator had gone, the sound equipment had gone, and the wires to the lighting had been cut, so the features that make this sleigh extremely special and magical were all unusable.
“The material loss has of course affected us but our main concern is being able to get out to the children and bring the festive magic.
“We have a busy schedule which we publish on our social media, and the children are always there waiting for the sleigh to come and visit them. Particularly after last year where Covid meant we couldn’t actually interact with the children, they have been really excited to have this back this year.
“It looks absolutely amazing in the dark, with the lights on and the music playing, so the reaction is always brilliant. The thought that we might not be able to get out to them was just really sad.
Thanks to the efforts of businesses and locals in the community, the team have kindly been loaned some new equipment and repairs have been made to the wiring on the sleigh. They are hoping to get back to their regular schedule on Thursday (9 December 2021).
Mr Broughton added: “It’s been fantastic that the community and businesses have come together to help us out and make sure we can get back out on the road. It just goes to show how much it must mean to them.
“We’re looking forward to getting out on the road again and are very grateful that this is possible again.
“Whilst it is great news, this equipment is loaned and temporary. We would urge anyone who has any information about the theft to contact Nottinghamshire Police as we really need to find out what happened and try to get our equipment back.”
PC Joshua Ashton, from the Ashfield neighbourhood policing team, said: “This sleigh not only raises important funds, but it also brings a lot of joy to the community which is absolutely the spirit of Christmas and what it should all be about.
“Allan and the team make such an effort to bring this enjoyment to the community and we are investigating and making enquiries in order to understand the circumstances of what happened.
“As a neighbourhood officer, it is absolutely appalling to hear of this theft and vandalism to something which is an integral part of Christmas in the local area.
“The incident is thought to have happened just after 11am on Wednesday 8 November and we are now appealing to anyone who witnessed this theft or who might have any information to get in touch with us.”
Anyone with information is urged to get in touch with Nottinghamshire Police on 101, quoting incident 224 of 8 December 2021.
Information can also be reported anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.