Callous thief snatches charity money from cancer centre

"HIT FOR SIX" -- Deb Lee, who runs the Ryan Lee Trust cancer support centre in Kimberley.
"HIT FOR SIX" -- Deb Lee, who runs the Ryan Lee Trust cancer support centre in Kimberley.

A callous thief has marred one of the main fundraising events of the year for a Kimberley-based charity that helps children with cancer.

The annual summer charity ball of the Ryan Lee Trust is all set to go ahead as planned at the Nottingham Belfry tomorrow (Saturday) night.

But yesterday (Thursday), money for the event was brazenly snatched from the trust’s cancer support centre on Main Street, leaving the charity’s founder, Deb Lee, dumbfounded.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said a visibly shaken Deb (48), who lives in Nuthall. “It knocked us for six.

“The theft has made everyone angry because we get a lot of support from Kimberley people. It has left me jumpy and nervous now when I am in the centre.”

The packet of money, which contained £150 to pay the DJ at the ball, was stolen from the centre at 12.10 pm on Thursday 25th June by a man thought to be in his early 30s. He is described as about 5’ 6” tall with a dark complexion and stubble on his face. He was wearing a red polo top and red cap.

The drop-in centre, which includes a play area, helps children and families hit by cancer

“I was here with one of our volunteers, Sue Cooper, at the time,” said Deb. “The man said he was Spanish and didn’t speak much English.

“He was here for ages, but we couldn’t work out what he wanted. I think he was just an opportunist.

“It is not easy raising this kind of money. It takes ages. As soon as we realised it was missing, we rang the police, who were lovely. I would definitely recognise the thief if I saw him again, but the police told us the CCTV cameras on Main Street weren’t working.” Anyone with information is asked to ring the police on 101.

IT was almost six years ago when Kimberley schoolboy Ryan Lee fell ill while on holiday in Spain. He was diagnosed with five brain-tumours and died in 2010.

Distraught mum and dad Deb and Shaun quickly turned their grief into a caring crusade. They set up the Ryan Lee Trust, with the determined aim of raising money for more research, more specialist equipment and more treatment options for youngsters with cancer and tumours.

Deb even gave up her job to run the support centre on Main Street, Kimberley for affected families.