A GROUP that fought to save a pub for the community is heartbroken after it was raided by thieves.

Residents led an 18-month campaign to re-open The Ampleforth Arms in Risinghurst as a community-owned pub in November last year.

Now, less than six months on, the owners have been left to pick up the pieces after cold-hearted burglars dropped in through a skylight and stole cash raised at community events.

The bulk of the £1,300 stolen was set to be invested in the Collinwood Road pub’s kitchen.

Serving food will be the next chapter in the pub’s ongoing success story – but the raid means the community owners will have to stump up the money themselves while hoping insurance companies eventually pay out.

Lyn Simms, who has lived on the estate for more than 30 years, was one of the founding members of the Save the Amp group, which formed to resurrect the pub – which at one time was frequented by CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien – for the community.

She said: “It was a real shock. That money was for the community. It’s not like some big company was going to net the profits.

“We’ve worked so hard to get the pub open – and then to get it up and running.

“The worst thing is that they had the audacity to do this. It just sums up society nowadays – a complete lack of respect for other people’s property. They just don’t care whose money it is, unfortunately.”

The two thieves, both wearing hooded tops, climbed onto the roof of The Ampleforth Arms at 12.20am on Tuesday.

It is thought they used a large hammer to smash open a reinforced skylight before neatly removing panes of glass from a second window.

The pair then lowered themselves into the building, where they prised open two safes, making off with the £1,300 haul.

They did not go much further than the safes once inside the pub and, consequently, did not set any of the alarms.

After leaving they took off in the direction of London Road.

One of the two was white and wearing light Puma tracksuit bottoms, a light Puma hooded top with a large logo across the chest and Nike trainers.

The other was also wearing a hooded top.

It was not until 5pm on Tuesday that staff discovered the pub had been broken into.

Most devastating to those running the pub is that most of the money was raised by the community.

Mrs Simms said: “It was community money that we had raised from events in the pub – like bingo and raffles.

“We were raising funds to get equipment for the kitchen and to get the cooker cleaned.

“Now we as a community are going to have to foot this bill.”

Another repercussion of the theft is its impact on staff.

Bar manager Steve Babu said workers had been left paranoid following the incident.

Security has been beefed up and shift patterns changed to ensure nobody is in charge of the pub on their own.

Mr Babu said: “We have bounced back – we’re not going to let them keep us down.”

They said the best way to support the pub was by coming in for a drink or, in due course, a meal.

The team said they would also appreciate anybody who wants to donate their time.

Mrs Simms said: “The best way people can support us is to keep coming in and seeing our smiling faces.”

In November, the pub re-opened two years after closing its doors in June 2015 after Punch Taverns placed it on the market.

The community group tried to raise money to buy the pub before they secured a short-term lease to revive the free house.

It was also been registered as an asset of community value,

Several businesses and community members bought shares in the business.

The pub first opened in 1939 and according to CS Lewis expert Ronald Brind, was frequented by the Narnia author and also JRR Tolkien.