THE cash-strapped Hollies Day Centre was dealt a cruel blow at the weekend when a safe containing about £2,000 was stolen from the premises.

Manager Liz Shannon said the theft was “a kick in the teeth”, coming soon after they had received good news that the High Street facility had been thrown a £10,000 lifeline from Musselburgh Common Good Fund to keep its services for the elderly going in the lead-up to Christmas.

But a kind donation from the Tranent-based Walk With Scott Foundation will now replace the stolen funds.

Ms Shannon said the door of the upstairs office had been forced open and the safe was unbolted from the top of a filing cabinet and removed from the premises. She estimated it contained about £2,000 – including two days’ takings for the cafe and hairdresser, saving fund for the pensioners’ Christmas meal, some Lunch Club cash and funds from the sale of raffle tickets for five hampers.

“This has been a blow to us and a violation as well,” she said.

But Ms Shannon assured people that the festive meal would still go ahead and urged people who had bought raffle tickets to bring their counterfoils into the day centre to get another ticket.

She added that Musselburgh Horticultural Society’s Christmas meal at the day centre still went ahead on Monday evening and the next day members presented her with a box of chocolates and cheque for £300. On hearing of the theft, a member of the lunch club also handed over a cheque for £100.

Following the theft an appeal to replace the stolen money was launched on the Musselburgh Folks Facebook page.

The Walk With Scott Foundation subsequently came forward with a donation of £2,000.

The theft took place at about 7.30am on Sunday.

Police said a black pushchair was also taken and later recovered nearby on Eskside West.

Detective Sergeant James Welsh of East and Midlothian CID said: “This money included funds kindly donated by the local community, and we believe the centre was deliberately targeted because of this.

“It’s likely that the pushchair was used to carry the safe from the premises.”

Call police on 101 with information, quoting incident number 0707 of December 3.

Ward councillor Katie Mackie said: “This is shocking news and the last thing an organisation like the Hollies should need to be dealing with.”

Fellow councillor Andy Forrest added: “I am disappointed anyone would break into a community building that is well supported by the people of Musselburgh.”

Karl Cleghorn, of Musselburgh Horticultural Society, said it has been “heartening” that after the theft “Liz enabled the members of Musselburgh Horticultural Society to hold their annual ‘Christmas Cracker’ party in the Hollies main hall on Monday evening”.

He added: “Fifty-two of the society’s committee and volunteers attended and decided to gift the quiz winner’s prize, raffle takings and made extra donations totalling £300 to assist with sorting out the aftermath of this callous theft and help with supporting the older generations Christmas festivities that may be under threat of cancellation.”

Fears were raised last month the Hollies might be forced to suspend its services before the end of the year without a major cash injection.

While awaiting the result of applications for grant aid to the Big Lottery Fund and Robertson Trust, the centre, which runs an annexe for dementia sufferers, lunch club, public cafe, charity shop and other services such as a minibus and hairdresser, was at risk of temporary closure.

Ms Shannon said the £10,000 from the Musselburgh Common Good Fund was a “lifeline” and would ensure that the facility stayed open in the “foreseeable future”,

“We are so grateful to Musselburgh Common Good Fund,” she added.

A final quarterly grant of £20,000 from East Lothian Council for this financial year was also expected in the near future.

The Musselburgh Common Good Fund is administered by the town’s four councillors.

Mr Currie, who chairs the committee, said: “My colleagues and I were keen to ensure we could help as quickly as possible with the emergency funding application. Normally the fund is unable to help with direct running costs but, as a one-off exception, unanimous approval was given.”