A CHARITY has been inundated with kind donations after the Echo reported it suffered its third burglary in a year.

Companies, individuals and Southend Council have offered Southend charity Trust Links hundreds of pounds, after crooks broke into its Growing Together community allotments, in Westcliff, and stole a valuable truck battery.

The charity, which helps people with mental health issues to learn gardening skills, now has enough donations to fix the vehicle and enhance security in its car park.

Chief executive Matt King said: “We are delighted. We really feel they have turned a negative into a positive and showed people care about the project and what we do.

“We are very pleased we can not only fix up the truck, but also improve our security and hopefully stop it happening again.

“We also hope it raises awareness of what we do.”

IT support firm Utilize sponsored the “small business of the year” category in the Echo’s Essex Business Awards, for which Trust Links was runner up.

The Essex-based firm, which had been impressed by a visit to the allotments ahead of the awards, was dismayed to read about the charity’s plight and immediately offered £400, which was enough to cover the loss of the battery.

Operations director Guy Hocking said: “From our perspective, they were a nice charity to work with.

“We were browsing the paper and saw they were short, so we decided to help them out a bit.”

Town clerk Rob Tinlin was similarly touched and immediately asked officers to offer £400.

He said: “Trust Links provides a valuable service to the local community and we work closely with them on a number of projects.

“After I read about the break in and the impact this may have on the service they provide to local people, I felt that it was important to approve this payment to pay for repairs and enable them to get their truck up and running again."

About five individuals also offered donations of between £10 and £20.

Thieves cut through the chain lock into the charity’s site, in Fairfax Drive, then cut through cables and stole the battery.

Thieves fixed the battery cover back into place, so it was only when staff tried to use the Nissan tipper truck a week later, they realised the battery was missing.

Last year, thieves broke into Trust Links’ building, stealing laptops and electrical equipment worth about £5,000.

Nine months ago raiders stole two strimmers and a lawnmower from the charity’s Shoebury site, in Elm Road, costing a total of £1,500.

Six months ago, vandals slashed through polytunnels at the Elm Road site.

Police are investigating the latest break-in, which is believed to have happened just before 10am on Wednesday, July 16, but was only discovered on Wednesday, July 23.

Anyone with information can call 101.