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Community rallies round for vicar the Rev. Ben Sargent after bike stolen outside Bransgore church

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A VICAR whose bicycle was stolen while he was in church has been "absolutely overwhelmed" by offers of help from the local community.

The Rev. Ben Sargent had "just popped in" to the office at St Mary’s Church in Bransgore around 9pm on 30th April when the theft happened.

He said: “I was very tired as I had had a wedding and a funeral that day. I did not lock the bike up as it was dark and I was literally going to be a few minutes.

Ben on his bike
Ben on his bike

“When I came out to find it was missing I first thought that I was so tired I must have been mistaken about where I left it.

“But after hunting about I realised it had been stolen. I felt very disappointed and frustrated that someone had done that.”

His wife Kelly posted an appeal about it on social media, telling the thief: “Whatever the reason was for you taking it, I'm sure we can either help you or put you in touch with someone who can.

"You can always return the bike and make a fresh start."

The couple were then inundated with money and offers of second-hand cycles for Ben, who is the vicar for Bransgore, Hinton, Sopley and Burley.

He said: “The response has been amazing. if I had been an unscrupulous person, I could have ended up with a much better bike than I had in the first place!

"I have had dozens of bikes offered to me, people were even talking about having a whip round to buy me another one.

"One angry resident has written to complain about what has happened to Desmond Swayne, who is a member of our congregation.

The distinctive bike
The distinctive bike

“I now have a second-hand bike to get around on, but I would like my own back as I am very fond of it.”

He added: “I ride at least 100 miles a week around my ministry on it, visiting people in hospital or at home, going to weddings and funerals.

“I like cycling – it keeps me fit, saves money and is good for the planet. But it is also a great way of being visible in the local community."

The bike that was stolen is a fixed-gear bike with drop handlebars.

Ben said: “It looks trendy but it's not worth anything – £100 at the most.

“If someone stole it for a quick ride back from the pub, they’ll have had a difficult time!”

Anyone with information is asked to contact him on Facebook or through the ministry.

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