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Heartbreak after rowing club raiders steal £400 raised to improve junior facilities

Kirsty Melin (left) with fellow coach Jane Homewood and members of the rowing club's junior squad
Kirsty Melin (left) with fellow coach Jane Homewood and members of the rowing club's junior squad

A JUNIOR coach at Lymington Rowing Club was left heartbroken after intruders broke in and snatched £400 which members had raised to improve the youngsters’ facilities.

The offenders forced a locked door to gain entry to the club’s new building at Lymington Shores during Saturday night – just two nights before the juniors’ season resumed.

Once inside they broke the storeroom’s lock before removing the cash and stealing items of bar stock on their way out.

Kirsty Melin, one of four instructors on the volunteer-run club’s junior squad, was alerted to the break-in on Sunday, having spent the weekend in Dartmouth with some of the children taking part in the final of the junior south coast championships.

Speaking to the A&T, she explained the money stolen had been the takings from a recent car boot sale. It was to be put towards paying for new rowing equipment.

“It’s just devastating really,” Miss Melin said.

“The juniors have been fundraising all year. The squad is fundraising because of the move to the new club venue and much more interest.

“The junior section is 50% up and we’ve got more people on the waiting list to apply, so we need more boats in the water to facilitate this.”

The club has already ordered the set of quad-riggers for a junior boat, but the theft of the £400 has forced it to look elsewhere for the cash to meet the cost.

As reported in the A&T, the club launched its new base in May. It had moved to the former Redrow showroom donated by the firm behind the Lymington Shores housing development from its previous site in Captains Row.

The ribbon was cut by double Olympic gold medal-winning rower Heather Stanning OBE, a former pupil of Miss Melin at Durlston Court School in Barton.

Miss Melin has been heartened by generous responses from members of the public to a post about the break-in on the Lymington Rowing Club Facebook page.

The club has now set up an online fundraising page at www.gofundme.com/f/larcjuniors and it has so far gathered £130 towards a £1,500 target.

“Bless people, because when we put it out on Facebook asking people to be vigilant after the theft, we got a lot of people wanting to help and fundraise,” Miss Melin continued.

“It’s just such a shame that we had a plan in place but we’re now back a step. Not only that, but we’ve got to look into CCTV and alarm systems so we need to gather money for that. Redrow has also agreed to put in extra security.

“I hope that we will be able to provide the facilities soon for the youngsters. The children come back tonight [Monday] after the summer holidays, and this is the first bit of news I will deliver to them.”

Miss Melin has been a keen rower since she moved to Lymington in 1991. She also taught sports at Durlston for six years.

She added: “There is an amazing volunteer network here, so it just breaks my heart when I hear about certain small groups of people who decide to do this sort of damage.

“I am increasingly disappointed when I see reports in the local media of vandalism at places such as New Milton Rugby Club and Lymington Football Club. It’s just mindless and it’s frustrating.”

The club’s Facebook post, with pictures of the damaged storeroom door which has since been repaired, condemned the “low life” offenders responsible for the break-in.

It said: “If the individual is man enough to return the money then it would be the least they could do, however, I doubt they are.”

Those with information should contact Hampshire police on 101, quoting crime reference number 44190328881, or call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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