KINDHEARTED Echo readers have stepped forward to help after thieves stole a bicycle from a charity garden sale.

The distinctive bright orange man’s bicycle was stolen from charity champion Joyce Long’s garden, as she was preparing for her annual charity sale.

The 84-year-old, who received an MBE for her charity work, has raised more than £1.2million in more than 25 years of supporting Southend Hospital.

Joyce said the bike was worth about £25 and Echo readers, angered by the thieves’ actions, went to the rescue.

A man from Hullbridge donated a bike, while another donated £25 to Joyce and Southend Hospital Charitable Foundation’s Keyhole Cancer Appeal.

The donor, 21, who did not wish to be named, said: “I read about what happened to Joyce on the Echo’s website and I was disgusted.

“I have no connection with the hospital, but I was disgusted by what the thieves did.

“It is something Joyce has been doing for years and years.

For them to steal from her garden and the hospital, it really angered me.

“I feel the least I can do is donate £25 to Joyce to replace the value of the bike.”

Joyce, who raised £3,110 from this year’s sale, said: “How kind of them. I also had another man offer to make a donation because of what happened and I’m very grateful.

“Then this very kind man from Hullbridge brought a bike around. People are so kind. That bike has ended up being worth its weight in gold with people donating.”

Lucy Thomas-Clayton, head of fundraising at Southend Hospital, added: “We continue to be amazed at the support of the local community for Southend Hospital, and of course from Joyce. She has raised so many hundreds of thousands of pounds over the years.

“Joyce is such a well-respected person, both in her locality and within the hospital.”