A south Oxfordshire family have been left distraught after specialist training equipment was swiped from under their noses just days after a call up to Team GB.
Wallingford School pupil Rory Tidmarsh, 14, and best friend Sonic will represent the Young Kennel Club Agility Team GB at the European Open Junior Agility Championships in the Netherlands in July.
But three days after getting the nod, Rory and mum Joanna discovered thieves had callously stolen their international standard competition equipment from a training field near Harwell.
Joanna jointly owned the specialist agility course equipment with two friends and will need to stump up more than £4,500 for a replacement.
Joanna said: “I turned up on the morning [of March 9] to take the dogs training and all the equipment had gone. It’s a big open field and my first thought was ‘please let one of the others have had a falling out and run off with it’.
“I phoned them and obviously that wasn’t the case, so I just sat there looking at this big empty field.
“It’s not the type of equipment that will easily sell on the open market because it’s quite specialist equipment.”
Hoops, jumps and even sand bags were taken by the thieves, including one particular item, a bridge, that was around 36ft long.
There are only five suppliers of competition standard equipment in the country according to Joanna and all have a six to eight week lead time.
The family, from Aston Upthorpe near Didcot, have received support from the “brilliant” community around them.
Wallingford Corn Exchange held a special fundraising screening of Wes Anderson’s film Hotel for Dogs, while Wallingford School pupils donated £2 each for a non-uniform day on the last day of term (March 29).
Headteacher Mr Willis said his “pride” in Rory’s international call up was offset by learning of the theft and “would like to show Rory that there are a lot more decent people in the world than dishonest ones” by hosting the fundraiser.