Daylight robbers strike at Burnley gardening charity Fresh Fields

Volunteers pictured at Freshfields Nurseries on Cemetery Lane in Burnley are saddened by the theft of machinery and tools from their garden centre.

Volunteers pictured at Freshfields Nurseries on Cemetery Lane in Burnley are saddened by the theft of machinery and tools from their garden centre.

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A CHARITY which provides gardening work for people with learning disabilities has slammed “despicable” thieves who stole £2,000-worth of vital equipment from under their noses.

Volunteers from Fresh Fields, in Cemetery Lane, some of whom were left in tears following the burglary, had loaded a trailer with three petrol strimmers, two petrol blowers and a petrol pole hedge cutter around 1pm on Wednesday.

But as they were getting into the minibus and preparing to set off to work they realised the equipment had gone.

Centre manager Mrs Gail Harvey-Clapham said: “We were just reversing the minibus out and a member of staff went to pull the trailer to meet us and it was completely empty, we’re talking five or 10 minutes if that.

“This is equipment our students will be using to do their jobs. We are a charity for people with learning disabilities and this is their work. Every day they are out gardening.”

Mrs Harvey-Clapham said the incident had been reported to police. The volunteers were unable to carry out their work without the items and were forced to cancel the job.

“It’s very quiet where we are. It was either an opportunist driving past or somebody was watching us. It was in broad daylight. It’s despicable they can do that to people who rely on places like us to help them.

“It’s like a family here and this has really upset them, we have had a few tears.”

Luckily the items were insured but it is not the first time the centre has been targeted by vandals and thieves. The charity has previously had its greenhouses broken into and items stolen from inside the site.

“This is the first time it’s happened under our noses,” added Mrs Harvey-Clapham.

“I can’t believe the cheek of it.”