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Crouch End charity volunteer gets his beloved stolen van back – but worries it’ll have to be written off

PUBLISHED: 15:03 05 March 2019

Gary's van partially loaded - now it's been stolen he's not sure how he'll transport produce to market. Picture: Gary Sycamore

Gary's van partially loaded - now it's been stolen he's not sure how he'll transport produce to market. Picture: Gary Sycamore

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Crouch End charity volunteer Gary Sycamore has found his much-loved pick-up truck – but he was devastated to discover the damage done after thieves stole it from outside of his home last Saturday.

Gary Sycamore with his Trugg of vegetablesMuswell Hill Horticultural Society Autumn show 2018Gary Sycamore with his Trugg of vegetablesMuswell Hill Horticultural Society Autumn show 2018

After the Broadway published an appeal to help reunite Gary, 70, with his van, a 1989 VW Golf Caddy known as Clarissa, one of his fellow allotment-holders spotted it abandoned in Wightman Road, Harringay.

It had been taken on February 23.

Unfortunately, Gary told this newspaper that it had been damaged quite considerably, and given its age he wasn’t sure whether it would have to be written off.

He said: “I’m not sure what’s going to happen as yet. I’ve got the insurance settlers coming up to asses the damage.

Flowers on the back of Gary's truck. Picture: Gary SycamoreFlowers on the back of Gary's truck. Picture: Gary Sycamore

“Given the age of the vehicle there’s a good chance it’s going to be a write-off.”

He said he would know more today (Thurs).

Gary explained the extent of the damage. He added: “They have just broken off the door handle, and they’ve ruined the electrics inside when they’ve hot-wired it. The electric steering lock has been broken, too.

“It’s not just about if it’s possible to fix, with it being so old, they don’t make parts anymore.”

Gary Sycamore's Volkswagen Golf Caddy pick-up truck was stolen. Picture: Gary SycamoreGary Sycamore's Volkswagen Golf Caddy pick-up truck was stolen. Picture: Gary Sycamore

Gary has used the van for the last 22 years in his fundraising efforts for Highgate charity the Harington Scheme. He reckons he’s raised “almost £40,000” over the years, most recently by using the van to transport homegrown fruit and vegetables to the Ally Pally Farmer’s Market.

When the Broadway spoke to the Harington Scheme’s manager Joanna Baxter, she said: “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.”

The loss of Gary’s van also caught the attention of local MP Catherine West, who 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 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.”

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