Victorious Festival: Charity stung after thieves take cash stall

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CRUEL thieves snatched hundreds of pounds from a charity helping provide respite care for sick children.

People raising cash for Sam's Haven at Victorious Festival were distracted on Saturday before thieves snuck into the stall via the back and took the cash.

Sam Merrick with his dad Paul Merrick. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Sam Merrick with his dad Paul Merrick. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

The charity provides respite holidays for families who have children with life-threatening or terminal illnesses.

It was inspired by Sam Merrick, now 10, was born at 26 weeks and has been in and out of hospital ever since, including having a bone marrow transplant.

Young Sam’s mum, 37-year-old Louise Merrick, of Denmead, said: ‘We felt really violated – it’s liek someone has come into your house.

‘The money is not ours – it’s raised for the charity.

‘You feel violated, and then sad and then there’s guilt.’

It’s not known how much was taken as the fundraisers had not yet counted up the cash from Saturday’s takings.

Louise said it’s thought a group of five or six Chinese women distracted the stallholders at the time of the theft.

But now Sam’s Haven is looking up after Football for Cancer donated £1,000 and a GoFundMe fundraising page raised £530. Another £200 was raised on Friday at the Southsea festival.

Louise said: ‘The community had raised that within a few hours. The people that took it: I hope they see they didn’t stop anyone and the charity is still going strong.

‘It’s restored our faith as well.’

She took the time to respond to people on Facebook, thanking people for their well-wishes.

Louise added: ‘We woke up in the morning, we didn’t got to bed until 3.30am – it took us a little while to fall asleep.

‘I woke up at 9am and Facebook had gone mad. It took me three hours to catch up.’

A Hampshire police statement said: ‘The incident was reporting just before 1am on Sunday, August 26.

‘Offender/s have entered a tented concession stall at Victorious Festival and stolen a red cash tin, containing approximately £400’

Anyone with information should call Hampshire Constabulary on 101 quoting 44180322945, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.