Fundraiser rebuilding her life

TODAY Jane Symes is beginning to rebuild her future after the most harrowing year of her life.The 41-year-old was cleared of stealing nearly £1,300 from the League of Friends, which employed her as the public face of its fundraising for Ipswich Hospital.

TODAY Jane Symes is beginning to rebuild her future after the most harrowing year of her life.

The 41-year-old was cleared of stealing nearly £1,300 from the League of Friends, which employed her as the public face of its fundraising for Ipswich Hospital.

Mrs Symes, who was found not guilty after a three-day trial at Ipswich Crown Court, said: "I was never guilty. I feel relieved that justice has been done and the truth has been found. I will never understand why the finger was pointed at me bearing in mind how close we were at the League of Friends. It's the end of an era. I've learned a lot about life."

During the trial it emerged the public relations officer had debts of £25,000 at the time of the alleged thefts. However, although admitting her personal life was in turmoil, Mrs Symes denied she had been reckless in racking up credit.

"I got myself into an emotional muddle, but it had nothing to do with work. Hands up, I have made mistakes in my life as a person and I have owned up to those. I have made wrong decisions."

However Mrs Symes believes her problems primarily stemmed from the break-up of her marriage to her third husband, John. But she added her belief in God and the help of her church, the River of Life in Carr Road, Felixstowe, had sustained her during her ordeal.

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She said: "I believe a lot of the misunderstanding was to do with the animosity which happened during our divorce. Without My faith, my friends, the church I attend and the prayers everyone put forward for me, I would not have got through this. Thank you to everyone who has supported me and stuck by me. I would also like to thank my solicitor Sue Threadwell of Ian Duckworth and Co and Simon Spence my barrister for their support. Sue has been a tower of strength to me."

Mrs Symes, who now lives outside Suffolk, but still has a house in Foxhall Road, Ipswich, added she was concerned the publicity surrounding her trial would be detrimental to how the charity she worked for was viewed. She urged people not to be put off donating money to the League of Friends, even though almost £1,300 had been lost.

She said: "All this bad press will deter people from donating to the League of Friends. As a team we all worked so hard to do as well as we could. I wouldn't want the League of Friends to suffer. I would like to get across to the public - please still donate to the League of Friends. The work that they and I have done is superb and it helps so many people. Please don't let this misunderstanding deter the public from donating."

Undaunted by her experiences, the mother-of-two said she is still working as a fundraiser.

Mrs Symes said: "I have continued for the past six months to do charity work and I just want to get on with the rest of my life."

During her trial, it was alleged that while working as public relations and marketing co-ordinator for the charity she failed to bank £77 from a street collection, £960 raised at a dinner and £250 from a garden party.

Mrs Symes testified she had given the money from the street collection and the money raised at the dinner to League of Friends Chairman, Patricia Salisbury.

She described Mrs Salisbury, who denied being given the money by her, as being forgetful.

Mrs Symes told the court that she didn't think the money had been stolen. "I genuinely believe it has been mislaid or thrown away," she said.

Today Mrs Symes said despite Mrs Salisbury being a witness against her, she still holds her in high regard.

"Patricia has been and always will be very dear to me and I miss her."

In relation to the £250 raised for the charity at a garden party, Mrs Symes told the jury she had given the money to her au pair to pay into the bank while she waited outside in her car.

She said the au pair had given her a slip of paper when she got back into the car but this had been mislaid.

Mrs Symes told the court the money could have been paid into the wrong account.

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