HEARTLESS thieves stole 40 miles of signage intended to direct cyclists on a charity ride around Aylesbury Vale to raise funds for a hospice.
Staff from Iain Rennie Grove House Hospice Care spent two days working to replace the signs, and on the day of the bike ride two colleagues got up early to check the route again.
Communications officer Kathryn Pezet said: “Our deputy director of fund raising, Paul Parrish, discovered the signs had been stolen when he cycled the route on Saturday morning to check everything was in order. We usually find one or two turned around by pranksters, but it soon became apparent that this affected a huge part of the route.
“He was very angry. The staff were all called in and we had to go back out and put signage up on that 40 mile stretch again.”
The following morning, the day of the charity bike ride, fund raising manager Ruth Barber and events fund raiser Kerri Coote rose at 3.30am and drove along the entire route to ensure the heartless thieves had not been out again.
Mrs Pezet said: “We had 350 cyclists taking part in the event and we gave maps to everyone to help them find their way just in case some of the signs were missing.”
The stolen signs were mainly laminated coloured arrows which had been cable tied to posts, but also included hard yellow signs warning motorists of the event taking place. The yellow signs included the name of the hospice.
They had been created to be used several times and are worth about £600.
The charity bike ride is an annual event, cyclists had a choice of three routes, 75 miles, 35 miles or 10 kilometres. It is the biggest fund raiser of the year and is expected to bring in £35,000.
Mrs Pezet said: “We provide care for patients with life limiting illnesses in their homes, at no cost to the patient. We are funded largely through fund raising and need to raise over £6 million each year to fund the service we provide in Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.
“Losing signage worth £600 is quite a blow because every penny counts.
“We are very disappointed in the people who stole the signs, especially as they must have been aware from the wording on the signs that this was a charity cycle ride.”