MATTRESSES destined for a children’s health centre in Gambia have been stolen from a Burnley charity.

Terry Burns, chairman of Furniture for Education Worldwide, based in Holgate Street, slammed the ‘heartless’ thieves for depriving poorly youngsters of the beds, who without them have to sleep on the floor.

The 24 specialist, easily transportable mattresses were due to be shipped to Mariama Clinic in Bijilo on February 28.

They had been donated to the charity by Barnoldswick bed giant Silentnight.

The charity is offering a £200 reward for information which leads to the thieves being captured by police.

Mr Burns said: “We rely totally on fundraising and donations to be able to supply furniture to kids with nothing. “It’s so sad that someone would rob these children of comfort when they are ill.

“The heartless criminals that walked in and took all but two of the mattresses must have known they were stealing from a charity, because of all the signage outside. It’s such a shame.

“Someone had left the door on the latch while they had gone out and the burglars came in through the door.

“We’ve got thousands of tables and chairs that we are shipping over that weren’t stolen.

“One of our trustees, Keith Bowlan, is going to travel over to Gambia to make sure the container makes it to the clinic.

“There’s such corruption there you need to make sure it’s going to get to the right place.

“So far, we’ve sent 66 40ft-long containers to countries across the world.”

In November, the charity raised more than £15,000 at an event at the Dunkenalgh Hotel, Clayton-le-Moors, to send furniture to some of the most impoverished schools across the globe.

A Lancashire Police spokeswoman said: “The mattresses were stolen between Monday and Wednesday. Enquiries are ongoing. Anyone with information should call police on 101.”

To contact Terry, call 07976611119.