Youth group hit by thieves at Garstang Victorian Christmas Festival

The 1st Garstang Rangers (top) had their collection box stolen from the Garstang Victorian Christmas Festival, which included a marching band and procession (bottom).
The 1st Garstang Rangers (top) had their collection box stolen from the Garstang Victorian Christmas Festival, which included a marching band and procession (bottom).

The first night of the Garstang Victorian Christmas Festival was marred when one of the stalls was targeted by thieves.

The 1st Garstang Rangers are an expedition group made up of women aged 14 to 26 that have been attending the Victorian festival for the last 15 years.

Festival fun: Mayoress Lyn Ryder, town crier Hilary McGrath and mayor Peter Ryder.

Festival fun: Mayoress Lyn Ryder, town crier Hilary McGrath and mayor Peter Ryder.

But on Monday night, the cash raised by volunteers – planned to go towards funding the group’s international trips next year – was stolen by thieves who made off with their cash box containing over £100.

Ellis Quinn, spokeswoman for the 1st Garstang Rangers and Girlguiding North West England, said: “We’re absolutely devastated as so much time and effort went into making the homemade gifts we were selling.

“We do this stall every year to raise much-needed funds for the unit and nothing like this has ever happened before. It’s not what you expect in Garstang.”

In the aftermath of the robbery, a JustGiving page was set up Garstang resident Adam Young to raise the funds lost in the robbery.

Festival fun: Landlord Matthew Myers with staff from The Crown pub.

Festival fun: Landlord Matthew Myers with staff from The Crown pub.

Adam said: “Youth groups are important to the community and it seemed a shame that the actions of one person might undermine all of the work the Rangers had undertaken to fund their activities next year.

“Hopefully this will give the Rangers a little boost and encourage them to keep up their fundraising efforts.”

Ellis said: “We have been overwhelmed by the support and messages from everyone in the community.

We appreciate every person in the Garstang community who has helped us out in any way."

Within 24 hours the £200 target set on the page had been smashed, which included a single donation of £100.

The incident was reported to police who confirm that an investigation is now underway.

A spokesman for Lancashire Police said: “A sum of around £100 was reported stolen between 8:55pm and 9:10pm on Monday night (December 11).

“The incident is still under investigation and we are asking anyone with any information to call 101 quoting reference number 1472 of December 11.

“There are no suspects at the moment.”

Garstang residents took to social media damning the individuals behind the robbery.

Becky Patten posted: “So sorry to read this. I would not have expected this from someone from Garstang.”

Sarah Evans added: “I’m so sorry to hear this; that’s so dreadful when you’ve worked so hard. I hope it’s found.”

You can donate to the fund by visiting https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/garstang-rangers