A CHARITY has been inundated with offers of support from its village after its minibus was vandalised.

Age Concern Chalgrove needs to raise about £9,000 to repair the van, which it bought for £48,000 with money left to it in a villager’s will.

Trustees originally thought it was a write-off, but after their plight appeared in the Oxford Mail they were flooded with offers of support from villagers, pub landlords and even primary school pupils.

Stadhampton pensioner Beryl Dodsworth, a regular member, said: “Everyone has been marvellous.

“We used to go for days out every 10 days, and that’s all stopped because we haven’t got the minibus, it is so important to us.”

Children at Chalgrove Community Primary School drew pictures of fundraising ideas including a car wash and a sponsored sponge-throw at teachers, which they gave to trustees.

Trustee Judith Bennett, 68, said: “It has been a tremendous exercise in what is best about living in our village.

“The first week after the Oxford Mail article people asked us if we would be fundraising so I set up a web page.

“We were hit for six when it happened, then someone put it on Facebook and Twitter and people just keep getting in touch.

“In the flooding last February, people were fantastically helpful and this is just another example of it.”

They have already raised about £2,000 and trustees hope insurance will cover some of the £9,000 repair cost.

Mrs Bennett added: “We are so fortunate to live in this village. It’s such a lovely community and there is a real coming-together when there are problems.”

Vicki and Steve Wood at the Lamb pub promoted the fundraising webpage and put a donation mug on the bar.

Mrs Wood estimated there was a couple of hundred pounds in the mug already.

She said: “Everyone knows how important that bus is to the elderly people in this village and surrounding villages.

“It just seemed unbelievable that someone would do that to a charity for the elderly.”

The charity, founded in the late 1990s, runs a day centre for older villagers providing entertainment, companionship and a weekly Tuesday lunch.

It uses the minibus to take its 45 members, mostly over 80, to lunch, on shopping trips and days out.

Vandals broke into the compound where the van is kept at John Boyd Motors, Chalgrove, overnight on January 4.

The bonnet was prised open and headlights smashed to get into the engine compartment, in what the charity believes was an attempt to steal the valuable catalytic converter and diesel filter.

It came days after trustee Ken Batley, 88, was awarded an MBE for his charity work in the New Year’s Honours list.

Thames Valley Police are still investigating theft from vehicle suspicions but has made no arrests.

Donate online at justgiving.com/ageconcernchalgrove

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