A DISABILITY charity has been left devastated and outraged after their minibus was heartlessly stolen.

The silver 14 seater Ford Transit Jumbo minibus belonging to Stockdales was taken from charity's centre in Harboro Road on Saturday and has not been seen since.

Based in Sale, Stockdales care for children young people and adults with learning disabilities.

They operate residential and community services and lend vital support to more than 200 people and their families.

Emma Morris, chief executive at Stockdales, said: “We were heartbroken to find out our minibus had been stolen. We just can’t believe that anyone would take this invaluable vehicle and deprive disabled people from getting out and about."

Stockdales purchased the special adapted minibus at a cost of £44,00 in 2012 after a fundraising campaign.

Ms Morris described how the minibus is vital to the charity, noting that it enables them to take people with the highest needs to more places, and transport wheelchair users safely and securely.

She added: “Promoting independence is at the heart of what Stockdales does and the theft of our bus has made things really difficult for us.

"Our minibuses take people out near and far, to and from our activity sessions, for days out and holidays away. They are an essential part of helping people with disabilities live life to the full.

"We have particularly special memories of this minibus as we lovingly decorated it ready to take some of our service users to their prom one year.”

Since the incident Stockdales staff and service users have put on a brave face but fear that they may have to find a replacement vehicle.

They are now appealing for the public's support in fundraising for a new minibus to get them back on the road.

Ms Morris said: “Whilst we are outraged at what has happened, everyone has pulled together in true Stockdales spirit to make sure our services aren’t impacted too much in the short term. So we’re doing the best we can for now.

"The minibus is a big vehicle and would be easily spotted, but it hasn’t been seen since its disappearance unfortunately.

"It looks like we’ll have to replace it and this is going to be a real struggle for us as we’ll have to do this quickly for the smooth operation of our services.”

To donate to Stockdales visit www.justgiving.com/Stockdales, send a cheque or drop off your donations to their office at 34 Harboro Rd, Sale.

Or for more information call 0161 973 2296 or email natalie.james@stockdales.org.uk.