JOHN Priestley was devastated after heartless thieves destroyed his business and stole hundreds of pounds he raised for charity.
Arriving at the Ferry Beach Kiosk the 43-year-old was confronted by a scene he described as ‘absolute carnage’.
The popular cafe in Ferry Road, Hayling Island, had its metal shutters ripped from the wall, windows shattered, and furniture torn up as thugs searched for money.
But most painful for Mr Priestley was the theft of hundreds of pounds worth of sponsorship given by his customers to support him in this year’s London Marathon.
The money was inside a large glass jar fixed to the kiosk’s counter next to a sign telling people any donations will go towards the National Autistic Society – which Mr Priestley chose because his 16-year-old son Aaron suffers from the condition.
He said he didn’t understand why anyone would steal money that was obviously intended for a charity.
‘It’s a real slap in the face,’ he said. ‘How low can people go?
‘My regulars had been so generous and it is just unbelievable that someone could help themselves to that money.
‘The damage was bad enough – and I was devastated to see it when I arrived – but this is just something else.
‘You wonder what’s inside the heads of whoever did it.’
Mr Priestley, of Rails Lane, Hayling Island, had only reopened the kiosk six weeks prior to the break in – having spent more than £12,000 giving it an overhaul.
Now he estimates repairing the damage will cost an extra £2,000, and said this wasn’t what he imagined when he moved to the area from London last year.
‘I’m not going to let it beat me,’ he said. ‘Everyone has been supportive, both before and after what happened.
‘There was at least £500 that people had donated, and now some of my regulars are rallying round to see if they can raise more.’
He added that the National Autistic Society had provided huge amounts of support to his son over the years, and he was running to give something back.
‘I have to raise £2,000, and before this I was almost there,’ he said. ‘There isn’t long to go now, but I’m not giving up.’
Police are asking people who saw anything suspicious in the area late last Wednesday to call them on 101. Anyone who wants to help Mr Priestley reach his fundraising target can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org