Thousands of pounds has been raised in just one week to replace stolen Christmas tree lights in Burgess Hill.
The LED lights were stripped from the town’s giant Christmas tree outside St John’s Church in Lower Church Road.
Members of the community were quick to respond to the theft on Facebook branding it ‘disgraceful’, ‘cruel’ and ‘heartless’.
A crowdfunding page was set up to replace the stolen lights and has reached more than £2,700 in just one week.
Burgess Hill Town Council donated £250 towards replacing the lights.
Father Kevin O’Brien told the Middy: “Although the Christmas tree appeal to replace the stolen lights was only launched last Tuesday, the people of Burgess Hill responded so generously that donations exceeded all expectations within just five days.
“Burgess Hill people have been wonderfully supportive and generous. Messages of support and donations have flooded in – we have reached over £2,700 in the space of just one week.
“This means that the tree will be brighter and more beautiful than ever before.
“Clearly the people of Burgess Hill were determined not to be defeated by the theft and responded accordingly.”
The annual Christmas tree lighting service at the church, which was under threat due to the theft, will now go ahead this year.
Father Kevin said: “St John’s will now be able to hold its annual Christmas tree lighting service as normal, only this year we will have the extra heartwarming knowledge that each light on the tree represents the hopes and wishes of the people of Burgess Hill.
“A poster will be displayed by the lights giving thanks to all those who donated and supported the appeal.”
Due to the theft the church said the lights will now be taken down and stored each year to prevent a further theft.
It also said it was looking into the cost of providing CCTV to protect the tree while the lights are in place.
The Christmas tree lighting service at the church takes place at 7pm on Wednesday, December 12.
There will be carols, a lights countdown, minced pies and mulled punch.