Shock as thieves steal Poppy Appeal box from Sheringham church

Sheringham and district Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal organisers David and Lesley Farrow with a

Sheringham and district Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal organisers David and Lesley Farrow with a collection tin Mr Farrow has chained and padlocked to a table at St Peter's Church after the previous one was stolen. Picture: KAREN BETHELL - Credit: Archant

Hard-hearted thieves have stolen a Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal collection box from St Peter's Church, Sheringham.

The theft was first noticed by a congregation member on Wednesday of last week, but, thinking the box had been moved for safe-keeping, she failed to report it missing.

A churchwarden investigated the following day and, realising it had been stolen, he phoned the police, as well as local couple David and Lesley Farrow, who are Poppy Appeal organisers for the area.

Mr Farrow, who is president of Sheringham and District RBL, said: 'I don't know who was more upset, us or the church; we were horrified and I can only hope that whoever took the money did it because they really needed it, not to use for drugs or alcohol.'

The couple distribute 150 boxes to shops and churches in Sheringham, Aylmerton and East and West Runton every year, also delivering wreaths to local organisations for Sheringham's annual Remembrance Day service.

'We start planning in June, and it is just horrifying to think that someone would want to steal from the Poppy Appeal in the first place, let alone from a church,' Mrs Farrow said. 'If it was someone who was in dire need or who needed money to feed their children, they could have approached the Legion for help.'

Helped by a team of eight house to house collectors and six street collectors, the couple last year raised a record total of nearly £9,000 for the Poppy Appeal.

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Mr Farrow, who has been an RBL member since the age of 14, has now replaced the stolen box with a new collection tin, which he has secured to a table at the church entrance with a series of chains, cable ties and padlocks.

'It is shocking when something like this happens, but we have a tremendous amount of support, both from local shop keepers and from members of the public, so it is a very rare occurrence,' he said.