A special day for children with complex needs has been left in tatters after thieves stole a boat from a charity retreat.
Raiders forced their way into the Eden-Rose Coppice Trust in Sudbury and made off with a dinghy popular with children with learning disabilities.
Rob Brooks, founder of the charity, which provides a woodland sanctuary for cancer patients and youngsters with critical needs, said the boat was due to be used during a pirate day attended by 16 children today.
“This is a big day for the children where they can learn lots of life skills through play,” he said.
“Part of that day has been ruined by the theft of a small dinghy, which the children use for land-based fun.”
Mr Brooks, who himself has battled cancer, said the children enjoyed pretending to row across the water on a grassy mound.
He said the activity was important for team-building as well as improving children’s hand-eye co-ordination and imagination.
“It really helps the children who have problems integrating with each other,” said Mr Brooks, who set up the charity in 1997. “The dinghy took four children and they had a great time.”
A section of security fence around the charity’s woodland, opposite the Granary in Quay Lane, was cut by the thieves overnight on Saturday, May 18.
It is not the first time the retreat has been targeted. In March last year, it was hit by a string of thefts, which saw items including a wheelchair and a chainsaw taken.
Mr Brooks said he believed the thieves had stolen the boat on a trip down the River Stour.
“It is very frustrating as people don’t see that the children miss out and they will be upset,” he said.
“I thought we’d got to the bottom of the break-ins, but the thieves obviously wanted the boat and must have spent a long time getting in.”
Anyone with information should call Sudbury Police on 101.