Raiders have ransacked an allotment site – stealing hens meant for a pets corner for youngsters with special needs.
Ian Curry is currently clearing away waste dumped by fly-tippers on a plot of land at the Holder House Allotments in Whiteleas, South Shields.
He is aiming to create a pets corner where youngsters will be able to learn about animal husbandry and to spend time with a variety of animals.
But, over Christmas, thieves broke into the allotment plot stealing seven Silkie hens from an aviary he had built on the site.
The theft, which happened overnight on December 23, has been a major setback to the 41-year-old’s plans.
He said: “I was absolutely gutted when I came down and found seven of my hens had been stolen.
It’s just unbelievable who anyone can think they can come and take things that don’t belong to them.Ian Curry
“I have been working really hard to clear the area of rubbish and seeking the help and support from other community groups to enable the project to get off the ground, including looking for donations of fencing before thieves decided to help themselves to our hens.
“It’s just unbelievable how anyone can think they can come and take things that don’t belong to them.”
He added: “This has set us back. These hens are a special breed which can incubate their own eggs so do not need any intervention.
“It means we will not have any chicks for Easter.”
The father-of-two from the Fellgate Estate, Jarrow, is currently being supported by South Tyneside Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) as he strives to set up his pets corner project.
He added: “It is our plan to turn the land into a place which can provide therapeutic activity for those with special and complex needs.
“The site will also hold open days for the community so that people can come and visit our petting area and learn more about the various animals.”
The Pets Corner is being run by a committee of representatives with experience in animal husbandry, poultry and agriculture.
Mr Curry said: “The task in hand to get this up and running is quite big and anyone who is able to donate their time to help clear the area, it would be really appreciated.
“We are desperately in need of transport and assistance in removing and disposing of rubbish and tree cutting.”
Anyone who can help Mr Curry, or can donate fencing, is asked to contact Mr Curry on 07758230834 or Billy Tindle at the CVS in South Shields. Anyone who has information on the stolen hens is asked to contact Mr Curry or police on 101.