Yobs trash safe haven for Gosport people with cancer

WHAT A MESS Melanie Whitfield-Tinkler, director of The Harbour Cancer Support Centre in Gosport surveys the damage after the break-in. Picture: Steve Reid (123032-740)
WHAT A MESS Melanie Whitfield-Tinkler, director of The Harbour Cancer Support Centre in Gosport surveys the damage after the break-in. Picture: Steve Reid (123032-740)

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YOBS broke in and smashed up the home of a charity which looks after people with cancer.

Staff and volunteers at the Harbour Cancer Support Centre in Gosport are devastated after discovering the destruction at their base yesterday.

Vandals trashed the South Street centre by breaking furniture, smashing crockery and throwing soil from plants over the floor.

They made holes in the walls, broke windows and pulled things from shelves.

The charity’s vice chairman, Hazel Perrett, discovered the mess.

She said: ‘I am so angry that anyone could do something like this.

‘It’s one thing to steal things but this is just total destruction.

‘Once they were inside they must have known who we were and what we do.

‘When I called the police I was choking up, I was so upset.

‘There had to be more than one of them and one in three people are touched by cancer.

‘So someone in their family has probably been touched by cancer and yet they do this.’

The volunteers fear they will lose out on hundreds of pounds after fundraising events will now have to be cancelled over the weekend.

They are also counting the cost of replacing the damaged items, repairing damaged furniture and cleaning up.

Melanie Whitfield-Tinkler, the director of the cancer support centre, said: ‘It’s just totally mindless vandalism.

‘The major cost to us is the damage that has been done but there is also the emotional damage.

‘We’re here to support local people and this is the thanks we get. But I know it’s only a small minority of people that did this.

‘It’s a major setback for us because we have had to shut and cancel fundraising events this weekend. I feel sick to my stomach over it.’

At the same time, the nearby offices of the Gosport Ferry also had five of their windows smashed.

Mrs Perrett added: ‘I was worried about our clients because it takes a lot of courage for people to take the step and visit us. If they saw the damage they might never come back.’

The Harbour Cancer Support Centre is now appealing for donations to help them through the crisis.

Trustee Lesley Hemfrey said: ‘They have not hurt us, or the building – it’s the people who need to use the centre they have hurt.’

If you want to donate to the centre, call (023) 9250 1503.

Anyone with information about the break-in should call Gosport police station on 101.

You can also give information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

· Police have arrested three teenagers over the incident. A 13-year-old boy and two 15-year-old boys are being questioned on suspicion of criminal damage and theft.