Crouch End charity volunteer and 'heart of the community' calls for help to find "perfect" van he used to fundraise for 22 years
PUBLISHED: 08:37 01 March 2019
A Crouch End volunteer who has raised "close to £40,000" for the Harington Scheme over 30 years is desperate for help to recover his van - which was stolen from outside his home on Saturday February 23.
Gary Sycamore uses the white van – a 1989 vintage Volkswagen Golf pick-up truck – to transport fresh vegetables and flowers from his allotment to the Alexandra Palace farmer’s market during the spring and summmer months.
There he sells his wares and donates the proceeds to Highgate charity which works to help young people with learning disabilities.
Gary, 70, told the Ham&High the van was taken from outside his Rathcoole Gardens home at about 11.30pm. He said: “It’s about getting to and from Alexandra Palace with the produce. It was perfect because I could just sell straight off the back of the van.
“It’s quite a rare van, difficult to find, for that reason people are often asking me if I’d want to sell it, but really in its current state it’s maybe not worth much. But to me, it’s worth much more than that.”
“I hope I’ll be able to manage one way or another. It was the perfect vehicle for the market – I don’t know if I’ll be able to find a suitable replacement.”
Joanna Baxter, the manager at the Harington Scheme said Gary had been a fixture as long as she could remember. She added: “Every year he raises £4,500 to £5,000. In the last five he’s raised over £20,000, it’s really fantastic. We really value his support – it’s such a sad thing that someone has stolen his van.”
Through his volunteering and his omnipresence at local flower shows, Gary has become a much-loved part of the community.
Hornsey and Wood Green MP Catherine West lent her support and told this newspaper: “Gary’s veg sales have raised so much money for the fantastic Harington project and I’m appalled that someone would steal his van.”
She added that the she had seen a rise in similar crimes to this one, and called on anyone with any information to contact the police.
She said: “People like Gary are the heart of our community and I know the community will come together to help get Gary back on the road and fundraising again.”
Gary told the Ham&High he had reported the crime but – because there was no CCTV available, the police had closed the case.
If you can saw anything on Saturday or can help Gary find his van, contact the police using 101. If you can help Gary some other way, contact Sam on the newsdesk using Sam.Volpe@Archant.co.uk