A hospice has called for donations after expensive gardening tools were stolen from its premises.

Burglars broke into Saint Francis Hospice's two storage sheds in Havering-atte-Bower in May and taken gardening equipment and electrical power tools worth £2,500.

The case was reported to the police and an investigation is under way.

The charity provides free care and help to more than 4,000 patients suffering from life-limiting illnesses across the boroughs of Havering, Barking & Dagenham, Redbridge and Brentwood.

Chris Franklin, head of support services at the hospice said they have been unable to carry out remedial work in the garden after their essential tools were taken. Some of these, like the lawn mowers, were said to be only a year old.

Romford Recorder: Chris Franklin with volunteer gardeners at Saint Francis HospiceChris Franklin with volunteer gardeners at Saint Francis Hospice (Image: Saint Francis Hospice)

He added: “It is really sad that someone would target a charity.

“Our award-winning gardens are an important part of what makes the hospice such a special place.

“They are a space for everyone, and they help people find peace and tranquillity, especially patients and families who love to spend time in the gardens.”  

The charity has now started a fundraising bid to replace the lost equipment, but donors can also leave them any gardening or power tools.

The volunteers at the hospice, Mr Franklin said, have been bringing their own equipment to they can continue to maintain the grounds.

He claimed: “It has taken us a while to get the gardens up to their usual standard. During covid, some of our volunteers were shielding and there were staff shortages.  

“The volunteers work extremely hard to maintain the gardens to such a high standard, but it takes a lot of work, and the theft of the equipment has set us back. 

Sonia Woodside, a volunteer gardener at the hospice for about a year told the Recorder that since the equipment was stolen their team is “struggling to keep the gardens under control” and “everything is looking quite wild now”.

She said: “Finding out about the equipment being stolen made me feel very angry and so sad that some people would actually be brazen enough to steal from such a highly needed and charitable organisation.”

She claimed that getting the gardens in shape could take them some time without the right resources, especially in autumn.

She added: “It is very difficult to clean the leaves up without leaf blowers. A broom is just no use with the amount of trees there are and the hedges really do need a good trim.”

Donations can be made to the hospice by visiting their website sfh.org.uk. Those wanting to give away garden equipment to the hospice can mail them on fundraising@sfh.org.uk or call on 01708 753319 to speak to the fundraising team.