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Community steps up to help Saint Francis Hospice after stolen van

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 January 2016

Community had pulled together to help a charity after a Saint Francis Hospice retail van, similar in appearance to the one pictured, was stolen

Community had pulled together to help a charity after a Saint Francis Hospice retail van, similar in appearance to the one pictured, was stolen

Archant

Residents and businesses have pulled together to help replace an "extremely valuable" Saint Francis Hospice van, which was stolen earlier this month.

Car manufacturer Ford has offered the charity the free loan of a transit van for a month, to enable it to continue its house clearance work, which makes up much of its revenue.

Upminster business Vanlocks, which specialises in van security, has also supplied and fitted new deadlocks free of charge to the hospice’s seven other vans – a job which ordinarily would have cost the charity £1,000.

Michelle Nicholls, general retail manager at the hospice, said: “We have been overwhelmed by the kindness of businesses and those in the community who have come forward to lend their support.

“We are very grateful to Ford for their generous offer and to Vanlocks for ensuring our other vehicles are even more secure following the theft of our van.”

She added the vehicle had been “extremely valuable”.

Andy Barratt, chairman and managing director of Ford’s British operations, said: “Saint Francis Hospice is a wonderful organisation, which goes out of its way to help patients and families.

“We’re delighted to be able to offer them something in return to ensure they are able to continue the great work they do within the community.”

Sarah Chapman, of Cranham, was “shocked” when she heard the van had been stolen from the charity, which helped her father in the final months of his life.

This led her to set up an appeal page, which has since raised £730.

“This is a message to the hospice that people care, that we are a community and that we will pull together,” Sarah said.

The hospice’s white Ford Transit Luton van was stolen from the Cranham home of its driver on January 6.

The charity, which offers free care for people with life-limiting illnesses, uses vans to collect donated items, which are then sold in its shops, and to deliver large and bulky items to customers.

Details are being finalised as to when and how the van can be used.

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