Welwyn Garden City residents rally to help struggling mum after Howard Centre theft

PUBLISHED: 15:48 23 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:17 23 November 2017

The Howard Centre. Picture: Danny Loo

The Howard Centre. Picture: Danny Loo

Danny Loo Photography 2017

The Welwyn Garden City community has rallied round to help a struggling single mother who had her belongings snatched in The Howard Centre.

Mum-of-two Nicola Gann was Christmas shopping yesterday (Wednesday) when she noticed her bag – which had cash, precious family photos, passports and keys – had been stolen.

Nicola, 29, from Welwyn tearfully told the WHT she has been left feeling “distraught and empty”, particularly as it has happened in the run-up to Christmas.

The galling theft is made even crueller because as well as looking after her young kids, Nicola has become a full-time carer for her disabled mother, so money is already short.

She said: “I feel like I look after everybody else, and I love doing it, but that bag and that purse were mine. They were presents, something for me that I cherished and I loved.

“They have pictures of my children, pictures of my family. It’s that feeling of someone else going through my things and rooting out what they want.”

However, after Nicola’s mother warned residents on social media of the threat, they spontaneously rallied and set up a JustGiving page to try and ease the burden, leaving Nicola feeling overwhelmed.

“That just doesn’t happen to me,” she added. “It was like ‘oh my God’ this is happening for me and they don’t even know me. I just can’t thank them enough.

“When my mum sent me the link to some of the messages it made me feel better in the sense that I had the community’s support.

“It’s just nice that everyone that lives in your local area cares even if they don’t know you.”

One of the donators, WGC resident Deborah Ronchetti, said: “It was an awful thing for someone to take what she had worked hard for and to potentially deprive her and her children of a happy Christmas together.

“I wanted to help alleviate her distress in a small way and to show her that, in spite of what happened, there are people who do care about her situation and who want to help.”

Nicola said she was incredibly grateful to everybody for their kindness, and also urged people be vigilant while shopping during the Christmas period.

If you would like to donate, visit: https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/asmileforxmas.

Police are currently investigating the theft, which took place between 12.45pm and 1pm.

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