Creative Advances, based inside Buckland United Reformed Church, had been left reeling after callous crooks broke into their HQ and snatched £2,414.20p of cash over the weekend.
The money, which had taken about 18 months to raise, had been meant to fund a post-lockdown reunion party for up to 100 disabled adults supported by Creative Advances.
But the ‘heartbreaking’ theft left the September bash in Southsea at risk of being cancelled entirely – that was until the community of Portsmouth stepped in.
In little more than a day, kind-hearted people from across the city stumped up more than £1,500 via a online fundraising page.
And in a stunning pledge, retired businessman David Luckett – former owner of coach company Lucketts Travel – has vowed to donate a whopping £1,000 to Creative Advances.
Faye Dine, service manager of the disabilities group, said: ‘The people of Portsmouth and the surrounding area have been absolutely amazing. We can’t believe it. It’s really overwhelming. I don’t think there’s a day gone by that I haven't been in tears.’
Donations poured in after The News revealed the group’s plight on Tuesday. Within hours, hundreds of pounds had been raised.
Mr Luckett, who lives in Fareham and was made an MBE for his community spirit, said he was shocked by the break-in.
‘What happened was despicable,’ he said. ‘For it to have cancelled the dinner and dance would have been shocking.
‘In the past I have done a lot of voluntary work with disabled people. I just wanted to help them out.’
Mr Luckett wasn’t alone; others rallied to hand in cash donations to Creative.
Among them was a pensioner from Fareham, who travelled to the church in Kingston Road, Buckland, to hand over £100.
‘Her name was Nancy Healy and she was amazing,’ added Faye. ‘She caught the bus after reading The News’s article.
‘I said to her, “you can’t donate that much, £100 is too much”. But she just told me, “I have plenty of money and this is how I want to spend it”. She brought most of my team to tears.’
Buckland United Reformed Church’s caretaker, Michael Mills, also donated £100, added Faye.
And support has been given, too, by Daniel Cleeve-Evans, manager of ALS Locksmiths Ltd in West Street, Fareham.
He intends to donate a safe to help the disabilities group keep their cash more secure in the future.
Mr Cleeve-Evans added: ‘What happened was thoughtless… we just really wanted to help where we can.’
As previously reported, police are investigating the break-in, which took place between 4pm on Friday and 8am on Saturday. Those with information can call 101, quoting 44210251174
To donate to the online fundraising page, see justgiving.com/crowdfunding/Creativeadvances