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Thieves steal Southwold Christmas Day swim sponsorship raised in memory of brave eight-year-old Sophie Harper

PUBLISHED: 18:37 22 December 2017 | UPDATED: 18:37 22 December 2017

Rebecca Gray with her niece Sophie Harper, who died from a brain tumour aged eight. Picture: REBECCA GRAY

Rebecca Gray with her niece Sophie Harper, who died from a brain tumour aged eight. Picture: REBECCA GRAY

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A charity fundraiser has been left heartbroken after thieves broke into her workplace and stole hundreds of pounds she had raised in memory of her niece who died aged eight from a brain tumour.

Sophie Harper's bravey has given Mrs Gray the courage to take part in the Southwold Christmas Day swim. Picture: REBECCA GRAYSophie Harper's bravey has given Mrs Gray the courage to take part in the Southwold Christmas Day swim. Picture: REBECCA GRAY

Mother of two Rebecca Gray, 34, arrived to work at the Southwold Treatment Rooms in High Street this morning to find the money she had been raising for the Brain Tumour Charity had been taken.

Mrs Gray had raised more than £200 in sponsorship to take part in the Southwold Christmas Day swim in memory of her niece Sophie Harper who died four years ago. On her Just Giving page, Mrs Gray said Sophie was the “bravest person I know”.

“Despite everything Sophie never lost even a fraction of her beautiful personality, her wicked sense of humour and her love of life,” she said.

Mrs Gray said Sophie’s memory had given her the courage to brave the North Sea on Christmas Day to help others.

Family and friends have raised more than £10,000 for the charity in Sophie’s name.

Mrs Gray was left “angry and upset” when she found the sponsorship had been stolen, along with money from a charity box and some from the business’s tills. In total around £500 is thought to have been taken.

“The damage can be replaced but when we realised the charity money had gone that really did affect me,” she said.

“It’s just heartbreaking, because it’s a cause that’s so close to my heart and I knew that money could really have made a difference to a family in a similar situation. It’s so awful that someone would want to do this.”

Mrs Gray, who works as an osteopath at the treatment rooms, where she is also known by her maiden name of Rebecca Huggins, made a post about the break-in on the business’s Facebook page and was “amazed” by the response.

In just a few hours, dozens of people commented in support, with many making donations to her fundraising page.

“The reaction has been amazing,” she said. “So many people have come forward.”

Suffolk police has issued an appeal for anyone who witnessed the burglary, saw any suspicious activity or has knowledge to call 101.

People can visit Mrs Gray’s Just Giving page to donate to donate.

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