A CROWDFUNDING page has been set up after a community stalwart’s van was stolen with thousands of pounds’ worth of music equipment inside.

Lou Blackwell, community outreach volunteer and former chairman of the district radio station Saint FM, had £7,000 of public address (PA) equipment stolen with his van on Sunday in Maldon.

Mr Blackwell was due to take the equipment, which included many of his own instruments, to Heybridge Parish Council’s “Party at the Planny” event, having packed the van just two hours before it was stolen.

Mr Blackwell, 62, is a well-known musician and volunteer in the district, having worked with the less able, vulnerable and elderly within the community, putting on many community events in Maldon and Burnham.

His friend Matt Podd has now started a crowdfunding page to raise the money to help replace the equipment that was stolen.

Mr Podd said: “The thieves took the van, including all of the Saint FM outside broadcast equipment that Lou funded himself, and Lou’s own personal items of sentimental value like his instruments.

“The worst part was he packed the van about two hours before it was stolen for the Heybridge Planny Party the next day. It was loaded with all of the equipment so we had to borrow PA equipment for the show.

I’ve known Lou since 2014 and we met at Saint FM. He is one of the nicest, most humble people I have ever met. For someone that does so much for the community and has done so much to me, thought the least I could do was to start a fundraiser.

“Anything people can do to help would be greatly appreciated.”

To donate, click here.