Popular business at Sheffield market is torched by thieves in 'gut-wrenching' blow
The community has rallied round to help a market trader whose newly kitted-out trailer went up in flames following a break-in.
Claire Belson had only opened The Little Pink Sugar Pod, selling sweet treats to customers at Chapeltown’s Traxx Market, in April, following a tough year.
But she is now having to start from scratch after it was destroyed in a fire in the early hours of Saturday, May 29.
Paul Swift, co-founder of the community market, told how ‘mindless thieves’ had ransacked the Coffee House, stealing equipment from inside, before breaking into Claire’s trailer, taking the slush machine and setting the trailer alight.
A fundraising campaign was quickly launched to help Claire get back on her feet and Paul said the response had been amazing, with an online appeal quickly passing its £1,000 target.
“Claire’s had a horrendous year due to Covid, because she usually works on fairgrounds, at shows and at the races, none of which she's been able to do, and she opened the Sugar Pod because we had customers at the market asking for ice creams, waffles and milkshakes,” he said.
"I couldn’t believe it when I got the call from the fire brigade and saw what had happened. After such a hard year, it’s awful that mindless thieves would do something like this.
"Thankfully the fire brigade was able to extinguish the blaze before it spread and set the wooden cabin and market stalls alight but everyone’s devastated by what’s happened to Claire’s trailer.
"The community reponse has been amazing. It's not just the online appeal. Lots of people have offered to help and the owners of the Indian takeaway Saffron Spice and the Body Planners gym have each given her £100.
"Every penny will help because although she’s insured it doesn’t cover things like stock and loss of income.”
Paul told how a white vehicle, believed to be a Nissan Juke, was caught on CCTV at around 3am that morning, with three people seen entering the market, where barbed wire had been cut to gain access.
Claire, who is now trying to get some equipment together so she can move into a cabin at the market this Saturday, said: “When Paul told me what had happened, it was gut-wrenching, but I’m overwhelmed by the response.
"Complete strangers are coming up to me and wanting to cuddle me. They know they can’t because of what’s happening but they want to put their arms around me.
"This is a community market and the community’s heartbroken that someone would do this.
"People are telling me you’ve got to fight this and we’re going to help you in every way, shape and form.”
To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/littlepinksugarpod.
A South Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “Police were called by the fire service at around 4am on May 29 to reports of a fire in Market Place, Chapeltown.
“It is reported that a trailer was on fire. South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue attended the scene and the fire was extinguished.
“The fire is being treated as deliberate and we can confirm that a slush machine, drill and till were stolen. If anyone has any information that might help our officers, please call 101 quoting incident number 178 of May 29.”