DEVASTATED parents who founded a charity in memory of their son has called on the public for help after seven donation boxes were stolen by low life thieves.

The Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation cash tins were stolen in two separate raids, robbing the charity of about £1,000.

The foundation, named after son Tom, who died in 2013, raises money to help teenage cancer sufferers, and their families, to help them continue with their everyday lives while being treated.

Nikki Bowdidge, chief executive officer and founder, said her worry was the thieves would use the tins for their own gain.

She said: “We are absolutely devastated.

“One was taken from a break-in at Lexden Rackets and Fitness Club and then we received the awful news that six were taken from Swinton Insurance on Head Street on Tuesday night.

“These people are stealing from teenagers with cancer. They absolutely rely on these donations.

“That money is the equivalent of three grants or even a laptop for a teenager who is trying to study and keep in touch with their friends while going through treatment.

“It is disgusting people would do this to them.”

The first incident happened on July 15 at Lexden Rackets and Fitness Club, Colchester, when it is thought a man entered the building through the roof before stealing the box.

Six more were taken from Swinton Insurance, in Head Street, Colchester, following a break-in on Tuesday night.

The foundation uses its donations to give grants to teenagers with cancer to help them continue with everyday life, fund vital research into teenage cancers and create age appropriate environments in hospitals for young people with cancer.

Last year the Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation handed out £200,000.

Mrs Bowdidge has asked for people to remain vigilant and keep an eye out for anyone with a charity tin and to report anyone they find suspicious with foundation tins.

She added: “It’s not just the money they have stolen. They now have seven of our branded charity collection tins.

“What are they going to do with those? I am worried where they may end up.”

“If anyone is approached and asked to have a Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation tin in their shop or business I would ask they please ensure they are a member of the foundation by asking for ID or calling us.

Mrs Bowdidge added: “We call on those people who have stolen the boxes to do the right thing and hand them and the donations in so the money can go to the people it was intended for.”

Anyone who is approached by Tom Bowdidge Youth Cancer Foundation charity tin collector can contact the charity on 07771646654.

Fundraising will continue on September 2, when superhero-themed inflatable game Kapow! comes to Colchester Castle Park.

For more, click here.

Call 101 with information on the thefts.