A FUNDRAISING campaign has been started to replace a tractor and repair a trailer that was stolen from Moors Valley Country Park.

The theft of the John Deere tractor and trailer belonging to East Dorset Heritage Trust, which is used to take nursing home residents, youngsters with disabilities and others with mobility problems, was reported to police on Thursday, June 20.

The trailer was found but was badly damaged. The tractor has not been recovered.

The Just Giving page set up by the charity said: “We have been taking elderly residents of nursing and care homes, youngsters with disabilities and other groups with mobility issues on trips to the countryside since 1992.

“We use a small tractor and a trailer which has been specially adapted to safely take wheelchairs and the entire scheme is entirely funded by donations and staffed by volunteers.

“The tractor and trailer was stolen from Moors Valley Country Park. The trailer was later recovered but had been heavily damaged and the tractor could not be found so we were forced to cancel all of the trips we had booked for Summer 2019.

“This project which is funded by donations and run by volunteers, makes such a difference to the lives of those who use it.

“These people we help aren’t normally able to get out and enjoy the countryside. They cannot get under trees or feel the fresh air on their faces very often. So we give them that opportunity through the summer months to be taken to Moors Valley.

“We are now left having to disappoint the very people that benefit from this wonderful activity, it is just heartbreaking.”

Following the theft, Dorset Council has stepped in to offer the use of a tractor.

The Just Giving page added: “Every penny donated will help us to get the scheme back up and running and then keep it running for the future.”

A fundraising target has not been set as the charity are waiting to find out how much it will cost.

Since the theft the trust has been overwhelmed by the response from the community with offers of help. The trust’s manager Sarah Evans said last week: “There’s been an amazing response out of such a selfish and cruel act. It’s restored our faith in humanity.”

Police are investigating the incident. Anyone with information is asked to call 101.

To donate go to justgiving.com/campaign/savethetractor