Faith restored after callous theft from Forfar playgroup

Chimes Playgroup had a four figure sum of money stolen. Pictured are Playgroup Manager Sandra Meikle and Rev. Barbara Ann Sweetin.
Chimes Playgroup had a four figure sum of money stolen. Pictured are Playgroup Manager Sandra Meikle and Rev. Barbara Ann Sweetin.

The Forfar community has responded with compassion by rallying round a Forfar playgroup targeted by thieves.

A four-figure sum of cash and a digital camera were stolen from the East and Old Parish Church Hall in Chapel Street, rented by Chimes Playgroup, last week.

The money was to be used for equipment for the children and for presents for their Christmas party.

Manager Sandra Meikle and playgroup staff were left devastated on Wednesday when they discovered the money had been taken.

The theft was condemned by the Rev Barbara Ann Sweetin, minister of the East and Old Church, who described the actions of those responsible as a “violation” which “leaves a bitter taste in our mouths.”

Within hours Gemma Anton, a playgroup parent, set up a Crowdfunding page and, so far £275 out of the £500 target has been achieved.

She posted: “Not only was their (the playgroup’s) garden a target for vandals earlier in the year but thieves have also now targeted them and stolen a substantial amount of money raised by the leaders and parents ... to go towards valuable resources.“

The public response has been described as “amazing” by playgroup leader Sandra Meikle.

She said: “Everybody has been really supportive.

“We are so grateful to them all, especially at this time of year when we want to give the children a nice Christmas party with presents.

“We were devastated on Wednesday morning, it was quite upsetting but it just shows you people are looking out for us.”

Local businesses were also quick to respond and on Monday morning many visited the playgroup to donate money; a cheque for £200 was also presented to the group by the East and Old Church.

After visiting the playgroup the Rev Sweetin said: “Fundraising is a way of life for all charities and good causes nowadays and most organisations would struggle to survive without it.

“Forfar is a marvellous community when it comes to fundraising and many people support many different charities in the community.

“Fundraising takes a lot of hard and dedicated work and we in East and Old support many charities within Forfar, in our country and worldwide all the while trying to raise funds for ourselves for our renovation programme.

“I believe the more you give of your time, talents and money the more you receive back in a variety of ways.

“We are happy to help Chimes regain some of their losses.”

The Rev Sweetin appealed to those responsible to come forward.

She said no money is kept in church buildings and the money taken from the church hall had come from a fundraising effort to support the work of the playgroup.

She added: “The theft of anything is like a violation and very hurtful to the people concerned.

“Many family and friends have given their money freely and this theft will leave the playgroup without vital funds to further the children’s education and playtime.

“If the person who has stolen this money has a conscience there are many ways the money and the camera could be returned.

“The church buildings are a place where people are accepted on trust and East and Old help many people in the community in a variety of ways; this theft leaves a bitter taste in our mouths.

“However I have hope - hope the culprit will come forward and the church and the community can help Chimes out of this difficult time.”

Anyone with any information about the theft can contact Police Scotland, telephone 101.