Kids' collection box stolen

CHRISTMAS cheer turned into gloom after thieves stole a charity collection box for sick children.Father of three Chris Holmes, 39, put up a sparkling festive display outside his home in Whitton Church Lane in Ipswich.

CHRISTMAS cheer turned into gloom after thieves stole a charity collection box for sick children.

Father of three Chris Holmes, 39, put up a sparkling festive display outside his home in Whitton Church Lane in Ipswich.

His home greets people with its Merry Christmas sign and inflatable Santa, snowman and tree and is covered with stars, Santas and lights shining from every window.

But on Friday night scrooges vandalised his decorations and stole the cash box screwed to the gatepost, taking its £10 contents.

It is the second year running thieves have targeted the cash.

This year they also slashed the £70 8ft inflatable Santa on a sleigh and took the lanterns from Mr Holmes' fence and scattered them down the street.

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Furious Mr Holmes, who is raising funds for the East Anglian Children's Hospice, said: "We had loads of Christmas decorations and add to them every year.

"We had already collected around £20 this year and a further £10 was in the box until last night when someone stole the box and its contents and damaged the decorations.

"I just feel very, very angry and upset.

"I just can't believe people can be so callous in taking money away from these children, money which people give to make their Christmas a little bit brighter.

"But we won't be beaten."

The hospice was the chosen charity as Mr Holmes' father-in-law Stan Walker tirelessly fundraised for the East Anglian's Children's Hospice at Quidenham until he passed away in the summer.

So far the display has raised £200 over the two years and has become a talking point in the neighbourhood.

Mr Holmes said: "We had a chap from the pub who came round the corner and stopped and saw the decorations. He was almost crying and put his hand in his pocket and donated his change.

"The guy must have been about 25 years old, he was drunk and it made him emotional.

"My children's friends also think its brilliant and always talk about it at school."

The box is emptied each night but was left out on Friday because it is the busiest night for collecting. A new box has now been placed nearer the house.

Meanwhile Mr Holmes is hoping the thieves have a change of heart and return the box and its contents.

The theft happened between 7 pm and 12 midnight. Witnesses are asked to contact Ipswich Police on 01473 383100.

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