Thetford widow, 99, 'heartbroken' after Salvation Army burglary

Dorothy Knights, from Thetford, Norfolk, is the longest serving member of the Salvation Army.

Dorothy Knights, 99, raised the money for the stolen instruments with her husband after the Second World War. - Credit: Keith Snowdon

A 99-year-old widow from Thetford has been left devastated after musical instruments were stolen in a burglary at the town's Salvation Army centre.

Police are investigating the burglary, which occurred between 4pm on Friday, September 10 and 8.30am on Saturday 11 September, in Magdalen Street. 

The instruments, which Dorothy Knights and her late husband Russell raised money to buy, were among a list of stolen items that included TVs, a laptop, and money from the safe.

Mrs Knights is the longest serving Salvation Army member in the country, having been with the organisation since she was four.

Her daughter Rosemary Snowdon, 62, said: "My mum worked in an engineering factory during World War Two and her husband, Russell, was a rear gunner.

"After the war ended they returned to the Salvation Army and, together, they raised the money to buy the instruments and start the junior band, so that young people could learn to play.

"I found out on social media and told her, as she's very well known in the community so I knew she would be told by someone.

Dorothy Knights, from Thetford, Norfolk, is the longest serving member of the Salvation Army.

Mrs Knights (middle) is the longest serving member of the Salvation Army in the country, having been a part of the organisation since she was 4. - Credit: Rosemary Snowdon

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"I wanted to be the first to speak to her as I knew she would be very upset."

Mrs Knights' grandson took to Facebook to let the community know how heartbroken she was.

Friday afternoon marked the first time the band had been able to get together and use the instruments since the beginning of the pandemic.

Later that evening, they were stolen.

Diane Dickson, captain of the Thetford Salvation Army, said: "The Salvation Army was founded on its bands and the instruments have been played for many years, so it is memories that have been taken and violated.

"We help the community in whatever way we can and our members are very sacrificial.

"They are so just generous in their giving to people.

"We’re only a small, self-funded group and for someone to do this, it feels like a slap to the face.

"It has been encouraging, the support we’ve had from the community and the posts on Facebook, it really has helped to lift our spirits that people are so shocked."

A spokesman for Norfolk police said enquiries were ongoing.

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