Charity orchestra loses £60k in ‘devastating blow’ as van of musical instruments is stolen

26 January 2022, 13:52 | Updated: 26 January 2022, 13:54

The People’s Orchestra has suffered a ‘devastating blow’
The People’s Orchestra has suffered a ‘devastating blow’. Picture: The People’s Orchestra

By Sophia Alexandra Hall

The People’s Orchestra suffered a disastrous end to its recording weekend, when the musicians’ instrument van was stolen.

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Last weekend, The People’s Orchestra and singers from The People’s Show Choirs were in Birmingham, recording a new composition celebrating the upcoming Commonwealth Games this summer.

But their adapted white Fiat van which transports the orchestra’s equipment and instruments was stolen on Sunday evening, 23 January, between 6.30 and 8.30pm in Birmingham City Centre.

“It’s a nightmare,” said Sarah Marshall, CEO of The People’s Orchestra. “It’s specialist equipment and the orchestra helped thousands of people back into work in the Black Country and we can’t help without that van. We’re just lost without it.

“The orchestra is just gutted, absolutely gutted, I don’t think they can believe it. It’s taken us 10 years to build it up, we’re a small charity.

“Just as we’re trying to keep going after the pandemic, this happens.”

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The People’s Orchestra are an award-winning arts charity
The People’s Orchestra are an award-winning arts charity. Picture: The People’s Orchestra

The People’s Orchestra is an award-winning Midlands-based arts charity with an overriding vision to share the fun of music making and keep people playing and singing music.

In 2021, the orchestra was presented with the The Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service, and the charity has helped over 1,000 unemployed people back into work since 2013 through its award-winning programme of work experience placements, education programmes and community outreach work.

The charity has created a GoFundMe to help replace the thousands of pounds of equipment and instruments stolen, and is appealing to anyone with information to contact the police.

“The vehicle and equipment are the result of many years of fundraising and they will take a long time to replace,” says Marshall. “It’s a devastating blow and if anyone knows anything, please contact the police.

“Our charity helps a lot of people through its music making but now we need your help.”

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The orchestra’s stolen van
The orchestra’s stolen van. Picture: The People’s Orchestra

The online fundraiser has raised £3,320 so far, and people can donate either on the website or via cheque to The People’s Orchestra, Town Hall, Lodge Road, West Bromwich, B70 8DY.

The orchestra’s musicians shared their heartfelt thanks with those who have already shared and donated on Twitter.

Recent tweets read, “Thank you to everyone who has raised awareness of our stolen van.”

“All your support means the world to us.”

If anyone has any information on the disappearance of the white fiat van from Birmingham City Centre, please contact the police on 101, crime reference number 20/102908/22.