The community that saved Christmas

Richard Appleby and Jodie Harrison-Sykes with their daughters' Millie-Jo and Leila-Mae.

Richard Appleby and Jodie Harrison-Sykes with their daughters' Millie-Jo and Leila-Mae.

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A family were facing a bleak Christmas after all their presents were stolen.

Richard Appleby and Jodie Harrison-Sykes were left devastated after gifts they had bought for their daughters Millie-Jo, seven, and one-year-old Leila-Mae were taken during the early hours of Christmas Eve.

The couple bought and wrapped more than £150 worth of presents and left them in Mr Appleby’s Vauxhall Vivaro van overnight to hide them from their daughters.

But thieves broke into the vehicle, which was parked outside the family home on of Philip’s Grove, Lofthouse, and stole all the gifts, which included a toddler’s computer toy and dolls.

Miss Harrison-Sykes, 27, said: “My neighbour woke us up around 8am on Christmas Eve and it was so horrible.

“Millie-Jo knew something was up and asked my mum if Santa was still coming.

“We were absolutely heartbroken.

“With two young children you want to make it special but it ruined our Christmas.”

But word of the of the break-in spread quickly through the community.

And they stepped in to save Christmas buying last minute gifts for the girls .

Miss Harrison-Sykes, said they had been blown away by the support they had received.

She said: “I kept getting calls and text messages from people offering to help.”

“My auntie’s knitting club even got some money together to buy books and sweets. We were overwhelmed.

“It’s great to know there are people out there who are willing to help in a time of need.”

Demon Model Limited owner Lyndon Sykes was one of the people who gave presents to the family.

His business on Dewsbury Road, Wakefield, donated toys and books to the children.

He said: “Jodie is my niece and I was shocked by it. It was a scummy act and everyone really just wanted to help.”

Miss Harrison-Sykes thanked the community for allowing her family to enjoy Christmas.

She said: “I think the girls got more than they expected when they woke up on Christmas morning. I was so happy to see them smiling when they opened their presents.

“It was all down to the community pulling together and we cannot thank them enough.”

Anyone with any information should contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555111.