Chuggers foil armed robbery

Fundraisers praised for intercepting gang of jewellery thieves brandishing sledgehammers

Two face-to-face fundraisers have been called heroes after they helped prevent an armed robbery at a branch of the jewellers Ernest Jones on High Street Kensington in London on Thursday.

Robert Dennis, a team leader, and fundraiser Scott Adams, who both work for Gift, described how they helped to stop a group of men who were riding motorcycles and wielding sledgehammers.

"Two of the men were hammering at the glass," said Dennis in a statement issued by Gift. "I came in and tried to grab one of them, and he started swinging his sledgehammer at us."

"As he ran away I tripped him up and his bag fell on the floor. I picked it up and a group of guys tried to grab him. I felt a huge rush of adrenalin – when he was swinging the hammer I really didn't know what was going on. I didn’t think about what was happening – it was the right thing to do."

Mick Aldridge, chief executive of the Public Fundraising Regulatory Association, said their actions were heroic.

"I’m very proud of them," he said. "It’s not an isolated incident, though: things like this have happened before. It belies the idea that face-to-face fundraisers are a menace – they are doing good on every level."

A Scotland Yard spokesman confirmed that a man was detained by members of the public at the scene and arrested by police in connection with the incident. Three other men were arrested later that day.

He said that they were all still in custody and that two of the men initially needed medical treatment for minor injuries but had since been discharged from hospital.

Gift said the chuggers went on to raise an estimated £2,000 in direct debit pledges for the NSPCC that day.

The PFRA said that as the crowd were milling about in the aftermath of the incident one bystander signed up for a direct debit because he said he had been so impressed by the fundraisers’ heroics.

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