THE SHAMEFUL theft of two Poppy Appeal collection tins within 48 hours in Thornbury put a dampener on the regional fundraising campaign.

The boxes left at Thornbury Leisure Centre cafe and the Golf Club were snatched ten days into the appeal on Tuesday, November 6 and Wednesday 7.

Although volunteers from Thornbury and Falfield Royal British Legion still succeeded in smashing last year's record of £14,284, raking up a staggering £16,193, the missing donations could have gone a long way to support servicemen and women and their families.

Janice Jackson, Thornbury’s Poppy Appeal organiser, told the Gazette she was appalled to discover someone had stooped so low as to steal from charity.

"I’ve never had one stolen before. It’s a shame. It is sad that someone should find the need to stoop so low to do such a thing. I guess the one in the golf club would have had quite a bit of money in it. It had been there for 10 days. I’m sure injured soldiers and their families will be not too happy about it."

One of the collection tins was found ripped open and emptied out in a bin in Alveston, while the other was never recovered.

Every year Poppy Appeal tins are snatched all over the country, often in very busy shops or locations. Last month, a collection box was even stolen from the Cathedral of Tewkesbury.

The group had 224 tins altogether at village shops, youth centres and venues across the area, including Alveston, Rudgeway and Oldbury.

The amount of support received from the community, however, including from St Mary Centre managers in Thornbury who offered one of their empty units as a free "office" during the appeal, was overwhelming according to the group.

"Many thanks to everyone for their support in raising much needed funds and to all of you who gave so generously," Mrs Jackson added.

"This money will be gratefully received by the charity. Without your help they would be unable to continue their vital benevolent work."

An Avon and Somerset Police spokesman said: "We would appeal for anyone with any information which could help us trace those responsible for this heartless theft of a charity collection tin to call us on 101 or alternatively ring the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111."