Published: 06:00, 24 January 2020
An elderly couple, who have devoted 40 years of their lives to raising thousands of pounds for charity, are devastated after they were targeted by opportunist thieves.
Barbara and Graham Hatton, both aged 74, sell goods on a stall on the driveway of their Chatham home to support local causes, such as the special care baby unit at Medway Maritime Hospital and Demelza children’s hospice.
But over the years the deeply religious Christians have become demoralised after items have been stolen under their noses and in broad daylight.
In the latest incident on Monday, former care worker Mrs Hatton had placed a child’s play-pen outside and popped indoors for a snack.
Within 15 minutes it had been snatched.
Mrs Hatton said: “It makes my blood boil. We are not doing this for us – we are getting nothing out of this.
“They are stealing from charities, not us, from children who may be dying.
“If people can’t afford something, don’t come on to our property and take it – knock on the door and I’ll give it to you for nothing.”
Mrs Hatton and husband Graham, a retired accountant, are both members of the Salvation Army church in Chatham, and do boot fairs during the summer months.
But in the winter they set up on the doorstep of their Walderslade Road home.
'They are stealing from charities, not us, from children who may be dying,' Barbara Hatton
Other items taken include a £100 fridge, child’s scooter, toys and designer clothes.
Mrs Hatton said: “One man took 20 sacks of potatoes and then proceeded to sell them to passing drivers outside.
“We do this because there are so many needy people out there and we can’t give up on them.”
The couple, who have two sons and five grandchildren, are now considering tightening up on security.
Mrs Hatton said: “We are looking at installing CCTV and chaining larger items to the gates.
“We should not have to do this.
“I hope whoever is doing this reads this and feels guilty and ashamed of themselves, especially if they are selling things on eBay for personal profit.”
More by this authorNicola Jordan