Thieves condemned for theft

THIEVES may have ruined one of the highlights of Christmas for Sudbury children after stealing a generator, writes Elliot Pinkham.

Sudbury Rotary Club’s plans for its Santa’s grotto caravan, which has entertained hundreds of children each December for more than 25 years, have been thrown into turmoil after thieves broke into international chairman John Chapman’s shed and stole the club’s generator.

“Someone came into my garden between midnight last Tuesday and midday on Wednesday, broke into the shed and stole the generator,” said Mr Chapman, of Queens Road, Sudbury.

“It generates the lights and music for the Santa’s Grotto caravan that goes round Sudbury’s supermarkets and the town hall.

“Without the generator, there is the danger that we will have no Father Christmas, as without power we aren’t going to be able to operate the float.”

Mr Chapman, who donated the £500 generator to the rotary club himself, has appealed for its return on behalf of the children of Sudbury.

“Last year, we had huge queues of children to see Santa,” he said. “It affects the children, as it is for them and they will be missing out. Any money from donations we collect goes to charity, we don’t take anything for expenses.”

Donations made to the Santa’s Grotto caravan have helped to fund the rotary club’s Crucial Crew safety event for more than 500 local schoolchildren, as well as visits to Colchester Zoo for disabled children.

Sudbury town clerk Sue Brotherwood said: “I am mortified by this – I haven’t really got words for people who do these things, they don’t seem to care about the consequences.

“The Santa’s grotto always comes along to the town’s Christmas light switch-on and there is always a constant queue to see it – it is one of the last traditions that has been retained.”

Mrs Brotherwood added that she hoped this year’s events would not be threatened.

“Perhaps if those responsible realise what it is for they will return it,” she said. “I sincerely hope that someone else can step forward and lend the rotary club a generator if they don’t.”

Anyone with information should contact police on 101.