Banner thieves have been condemned for threatening the success of a charity fundraising fete in South Tyneside this weekend.
Westoe Fete has been uniting the small South Shields community for more than 40 years.
Every year the village is brought to a standstill as dozens of stalls are set up to raise funds for many good causes, in particular St Clare’s Hospice in Jarrow.
But callous thieves have placed a cloud over this Saturday’s annual fundraiser.
A 6ft banner advertising the event, which had been attached with wires to railings beside the area’s bingo hall, has been stolen.
Today, fete organiser Alison Mason condemned the culprits – but expressed determination to go ahead with the fun-filled event from noon until 6pm.
What sort of person would be so vindictive?Alison Mason
She said: “This is just so malicious. The banner was given to us by the council a few years ago so that we could promote the fete.
“It’s deplorable and also so petty that someone would deliberately try to cause harm to an event that does so much good for the community. It is the charities which are going to suffer because of this.
“This vinyl banner was attached very securely to the railings on Friday night and it was gone by Monday morning, I assume taken under cover of darkness.
“What sort of person would be so petty and vindictive to do such a thing?
“Although we’re very upset at this happening, we wouldn’t let this stop us.”
The incident has echoes of another banner theft in the same area last November.
South Shields and Westoe Rugby Union Club was hosting a fireworks spectacular for the sixth year and organisers promoted it by decking out a nearby roundabout with banners.
But club manager Jan Robinson was forced to fork out £100 to replace a pair of 4ft-long banners when they were snatched.
Westoe Village will be closed off from 11am on Saturday, with stalls, a barbecue and performances from The Living Waters Youth Band and Harton Harmonisers, amongst others.