A fun village fete that brings the community together was ruined by heartless thieves who snatched the day’s proceeds from a car.
Around £3,500 was taken just after midnight as organisers tidied up at the annual Houghton Conquest event on Saturday (June 27).
The money, which would have gone towards school sports equipment and church renovations, had been left in a car while organisers were distracted by a raucous in nearby Rectory Lane and, after hearing calls for help, went to see if they could be of assistance.
One of the fete organisers and All Saints Church warden Judith Tyler said: “We were all very devastated and upset. Everybody is talking about it and they are very shocked.
“It is a small community and we had such a lovely day. It has just made everyone shocked, angry and upset.
“It was very dark and we think someone was watching and waiting and took the opportunity. It happened really quickly.
“I’m hoping that if people are talking about it, it might raise some awareness and we might find out who it is.”
Houghton Conquest Lower School was due to be presented with £300 of the money raised so that it could be spent on sports day equipment and the rest of the cash was due to go towards urgent electrical work within the church and a project to paint the inside of the religious building.
Judith said: “It means that we might have to delay the work or do some more fundraising - basically start again.
“We haven’t really sat down and talked about it because we are all a bit raw and upset about it.”
A Just Giving donation page has been set up in the hope of recouping some of the money.
“It’s set up at the moment at £500 so I’m just going to see how that goes,” said Judith. “Within a few hours it was up to £110.”
Bedfordshire Constabulary is investigating the theft and anyone with information can contact police via the non-emergency number 101.
To donate visit crowdfunding.justgiving.com/houghton-online