The father of a boy in need of a life-changing operation today hit out at a “lowlife” thief who stole cash from fund-raisers while they were collecting money for his son.
Members of Chaddeans amateur dramatics group were staging a variety show at St Chad’s Church Hall, Poulton, to raise money for Kai Hodgkinson.
The four-year-old needs a £58,000 operation to help him walk.
Kai, who is originally from Fleetwood but recently moved to Poulton, suffers from spastic diplegic cerebral palsy, which leaves him unable to get around unaided.
Dad Brian Roberts said he was shocked to hear performers had been targeted by the cold-hearted thief.
He said: “It’s just horrendous – it’s shocking.
“You get thousands of nice people but you get that minority of people, mindless idiots, who decide to take things that are not theirs.
“It’s going to put people off doing things in the future really, that’s what I would think.”
The office area of the church hall, on Vicarage Road, was ransacked on Saturday evening, leaving two performers £100 out of pocket.
Victim Judy Cardwell, 70, had cash stolen from her purse.
She said: “It’s horrible thing when we’re doing a charity thing for this little boy.
“More than anything I was angry. You just don’t expect something like that in a church hall. You feel violated really.”
Wendy Barnes, chairman of Chaddeans, said: “When we were doing the show some lowlife came into the church hall office and rustled through all the purses and bags and took about £100 in cash.
“Someone saw him come out of the door and challenged him but he just ran off.
“We’re just shocked that anyone could do such a thing.”
The incident happened between 8.15pm and 8.25pm on Saturday, shortly before the show’s interval, but performers vowed “the show must go on”.
The intruder, thought to be a young male wearing a hoodie, made off in the direction of Jean Stansfield Memorial Park after being disturbed by a member of the cast.
Barbara Cookson, whose husband David organised the event which ended up raising £600 for Kai, said: “The thought that someone was in there when we’re doing something nice and they go and spoil it, it’s upsetting.
“It’s disappointing when we’re trying to raise money for this little lad.”
And event organiser David Cookson, 80, said he wanted to help raise money for Kai after reading of his plight.
He said: “This lad can’t use his legs, I thought if this little lad can have this operation it’ll give him a good start in life.
“The theft was shocking really. I think it’s terrible.
“We all clubbed together to reimburse one of the lads, we saw him right because it was upsetting for him and the money was for his holiday.”
The police have confirmed they are investigating the incident and said officers are now looking at CCTV around the Vicarage Road area.
A spokesman said: “We are aware of the incident and looking at CCTV. Anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101.”
Kai’s New Legs Appeal has so far raised around £40,000 since being launched around 18 months ago to fund Kai to go to America for treatment.
The operation his father Brian and mother Caron want him to have is called Selective Dorsal Rhizotomy, which would stimulate nerve cells in his spinal cord to hopefully allow him to straighten his legs.
Mr Roberts said the family is grateful for the support from people holding fund-raisers in the area.
He said: “You get so many people who do something to raise money for Kai, it’s that kind of stuff that keeps you going.
“It does give you a smile on your face.”