A HUNTINGDON playgroup is thanking its supporters after they rallied round to replace Christmas party funds stolen by burglars.

Hansel and Gretel Pre-school's premises at the Trinity Free Church on Buttsgrove Way were broken into overnight last Thursday (December 1), and thieves made off with more than £180 in cash.

Some of the money, which included fees from parents, was intended to pay for a Christmas party for the children.

But since a member of staff posted the news on Facebook, parents and friends of the nursery have stepped forward, donating money and Christmas goodies.

Supervisor Heather Collins, who discovered the break-in, said: "We've been completely overwhelmed by the response from the church and the community.

"We're not entirely sure how much we have lost, as they took the box where parents pay their fees. We're trying to find out how much has gone.

"They forced the door and broke into the back of the church. Once they were in they broke into a locked cupboard where we kept the money.

"The money would have been used for cooking with the children, and the Christmas party."

Police forensics teams visited the premises, and police checked local CCTV cameras for footage. The pre-school remained open following the burglary, and news soon spread across Facebook.

"I think it has really touched people," said Mrs Collins. "People have given money and we've had donations of things like food and crackers.

"They are only small things but it's really nice. We've also had offers from people to make cakes and donate food. We'll use it all at the Christmas party for the children next week."

Mrs Collins said the theft would not have meant the cancellation of the party, but would have make things "much harder" before the donations came in.

The playgroup is trying to raise money for an outdoor play area, and has collected about £1,000 already.

"We've already been doing lots of fundraising so this is a blow to us. But we've been so touched by how people have reacted - we just want to say thank you.

"One member of staff said that it goes to show that there are good people out there."

A police spokesman confirmed the burglary had happened between 8.20pm on Thursday, and 8.30am the following day, adding: "Our forensics teams attended the scene, and our neighbourhood policing team has been made aware.

"Anyone with any information about the incident should contact Cambridgeshire police on 101."