AN OTLEY-BASED patient support group has thanked Good Samaritans for helping it bounce back from a theft.

Hug on a Tray provides drinks, snacks and TV access for Haematology patients in St James' Hospital, Leeds.

The scheme relies on public donations but a few weeks ago its secure collection box at the hospital was forced from the wall and stolen.

Lesley Noble from Chevin Socialites, which runs the initiative, took to social media to publicise the crime - and has been overwhelmed by the response.

Many individuals, businesses and groups got in touch to offer help but two in particular, Steve Cockerham and his brother in law Chris Chilton, went the extra mile.

On Sunday, October 6 the pair presented Hug on a Tray with a new heavy-duty collection box that has been fitted to a table in a design intended to thwart any would-be thieves.

Mr Cockerham said: "I spotted on Facebook that someone had levered the donation box off a plasterboard wall at St James', with around £180 of donations inside so I offered to help make a new heavier duty box and fasten it to the wall so it couldn't be removed.

"I went over with Lesley but, with it being a modern building, all the walls are plasterboard. After a bit of head scratching I decided we should make a new table which was secure enough to bolt a donation box onto so that if someone wanted to take the box they'd have to take the table with it.

"Anne Ridgway, who runs the Wardrobe Store in Shipley, donated a piece of coated chipboard heavy enough for the top.

"So I spoke to my brother in law Chris, of Chiltondale Wrought Ironsmiths in Summerbridge, about fabricating us a table frame to go with it.

"I bought and donated the new security box and Chris got to work making the table while Peatey's Paint and Powder Coaters, in Rawdon, kindly powder coated it free of charge for us."

Special security fittings have been used to secure the box to the table, while the table's legs have been filled with sand to make it even heavier.

Lesley, who greeted Steve, Chris and members of Otley Parish Scouts when they made the presentation, is confident the new box will be safe.

She said: "We have been overwhelmed by the support we've received from kind and generous people since our money box, plus food, was stolen a few weeks back.

"Steve and Chris have gone the extra mile by not just custom-making this table and cash box for free but delivering it to the hospital and fixing it in place - we could never have done it without them and can't thank them enough. It's wonderful."

Recalling the aftermath of the theft, she added: "We were doing a tombola at M&Co in Otley when I received the bad news, and we were gutted.

"I posted about it on Facebook and the response was brilliant; supporters from Otley and surrounding areas came in with donations for Hug on a Tray; Goldring Cards gave a cash donation along with other local folk; and some people gave goodies to help replace stolen items.

"We went from an attitude of 'well where do we go from here?' to 'people are great, are we blessed or what!'

"So the Hug on a Tray girls want to say a massive thank you to everyone who contributed to help us get back on track, you are all rather special and we love the new 'Fort Knox' table."