Disgust as thief steals collection box filled with money for poorly Wigan girl

A heartless thief stole a collection box filled with donations for a three-year-old girl with a rare brain disease.

Saturday, 15th May 2021, 4:55 am

Staff were stunned when a man grabbed the jar filled with coins and notes and fled from the One Stop Shop, formerly known as Thorougoods, on Old Road in Ashton.

The money had been donated by customers to support Darcy Ratchford, from Scholes, and her family.

Darcy has metachromatic leukodystrophy (MLD), a progressive disease that destroys the white matter around her brain and causes problems with speech, movement, swallowing and vision. Doctors say she has just five to eight years left to live.

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Emma Neafcy in the shop, from where the box was stolen
Emma Neafcy in the shop, from where the box was stolen

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“I was gutted. I started crying when I found out, I was heartbroken. How someone could take that from a little girl who needs it is unimaginable.”

Emma had created the collection box from an empty sweet jar and put it on display with information about Darcy and why money was being collected for her.

Customers had already filled it once, giving £173 to Darcy and her family.

Niomi Horrocks and Adam Ratchford with daughter Darcy. Pic: Ian Lively

Emma believes there was even more money in the box this time, when it was stolen by a man who entered the shop at 8am on Monday.

Despite it being tied up, he managed to grab the jar and take it, getting away from a shop assistant who tried to chase him.

Emma said: “He must have been in a few times before to figure it out and know how to get it off so quickly.”

The theft was a real blow for staff at the shop, who wanted to make a difference for Darcy and her parents, Niomi Horrocks and Adam Ratchford.

It was hoped the money could have been used for a day out for the family, so they could enjoy precious time together.

Emma said: “The family are fuming. They are heartbroken by this.”

Despite the theft, caring staff at the shop are determined to keep collecting donations for Darcy.

“We will do another collection, I’m just going to leave the tin behind the counter,” Emma said. “Most of the people who come in and put money in it are fully aware of it, so know it’s there.”

And she appealed for the thief to come forward and return the cash.

Emma said: “Even if he doesn’t want to hand himself in, he could hand the money in. It’s for a little girl who needs it. If he needed the money, people would have helped. Just don’t take from a little girl.”

The theft has been reported to the police and while it was caught on CCTV, Emma said the man cannot be identified from it unfortunately.

He was dressed in black, with a hood and mask covering his face, and was described as being in his late 20s. It is thought he came from the direction of Ashton.

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Darcy’s uncle has set up an online fund-raising appeal for people wishing to support the family. Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/f/help-darcy-have-the-best-life-possible

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