Lewes grandparents left sickened by boat theft

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A Lewes couple are appealing for information which might lead to the recovery of their stolen rowing boat.

The much-loved craft is of great sentimental value and was taken from their home beside the River Ouse.

The 7ft wooden boat was a special present when Michael and Janet Richards celebrated their 70th birthdays.

It was bought in Cornwall by their son and daughter-in-law, David and Niki Smith, who decorated it especially for the occasion.

They painted the name ‘Mudlark’ on the hull and the numerals ‘70’ on the stern.

Mr and Mrs Richards, both now 76, have derived much pleasure from the little boat over the years, with regular excursions up and down the Ouse Valley.

Mudlark was stolen from its spot on the bank where the couple’s home at Malling Deanery enjoys river frontage.

It had last been used by their grandchildren. Normally it would have been padlocked, but as it was growing late Mrs Richards decided to wait until morning – by which time the boat had disappeared.

“It’s sickening,” said Mrs Richards. “We’re both upset and angry.” She said the theft had been reported to the police and the couple have been studying the online auction site eBay to see if it has been offered for sale. They have also scoured local boatyards without success.

Mrs Richard said: “You will understand how upset we are, not only because we don’t have the boat which gives us such pleasure, but because my son put so much into getting one which is light enough for us to launch and drove to Cornwall to collect it for our 70th birthdays.

“We didn’t use a motor in order not to disturb the tranquil atmosphere and enjoyed using it to teach our grandchildren boating skills, tie knots and water safety.

“I’d be overjoyed if someone could come forward with news about Mudlark’s wherabouts.”

The boat was stolen overnight on July 15. Anyone who has any information or saw anything suspicious is asked to contact police on 101 quoting serial 1361 of 23/7.

Elsewhere, police are appealing for information following the theft of tools valued at £300 from a van in Seaford on Saturday.

It was parked in Southdown Road had its rear door forced open.