East Boldon scouts group "overwhelmed" by community response to fundraiser to replace stolen minibus

A scouts group has issued a fundraising appeal, after its minibus was stolen during the run-up to Christmas.

By Tommy Greene
Wednesday, 30th December 2020, 7:00 am

The East Boldon Scouts’ van, nicknamed ‘Gus’, was taken from a secure compound in the South Tyneside village on Wednesday, December 16.

The theft means the South Tyneside youth organisation is now only left with one minibus to transport almost 200 children around the region as part of its operations.

The village‘s scouts group raised £24,000 to purchase the minibus – which is also used by a number of other South Tyneside scouts groups as well as sports teams in the area - back in 2014.

The East Boldon Scouts’ van, nicknamed ‘Gus’, was taken from a secure compound in the South Tyneside village on Wednesday, December 16.

Simon Gray, a leader at the East Boldon Scouts group, said he and his colleagues were “devastated” by the news the vehicle had been stolen less than 10 days before Christmas.

He said: “Our scout group is unusual in that its membership numbers are about 180 children – most scout groups, in comparison, only work with numbers of around 70.

"So we usually have about 60 in each of the different age brackets. If we are left with just the one vehicle, that number would have to be halved and so half the scouts in the area would miss out on the various trips and projects we organise for them.

"We run from our own building, so the minibuses are essential for getting children out to activities – whether that’s out for a hike, or to the climbing wall or to do something like kayaking, for instance.

The stolen minibus.

"So the problem we’ve got is that, once we get the green light to start expeditions again, we won’t have the vehicles to do them.”

He explained that, although the group continues to negotiate with its insurance company, it has been confirmed a ‘like for like’ replacement will not be provided for.

Mr Gray said the support residents in the area have shown since the group set up its fundraiser earlier this month has so far been “phenomenal”.

He added: "We haven’t been able to do anything since March and we’ve had to close our building to all but one user, so our income has just plummeted.

Without the now-stolen minibus, East Boldon Scouts says half of children in the area may miss out on activities when they re-start

“So to then have the minibus before Christmas was the last thing we needed.

"We are the biggest youth provision in the Boldon and any support we receive would be much appreciated.”

The group says it has hit its initial target of £3,000, but the Crowdfunder remains open.

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Without the now-stolen minibus, East Boldon Scouts says half of children in the area may miss out on activities when they re-start

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The stolen minibus, nicknamed 'Gus', in use at Kielder