The callous theft of a charity collection box at a pharmacy in Petts Wood has inspired a "phenomenal" reaction.

The box funded research for Muscular Dystrophy UK to help finally find a cure for the progressive muscle condition.

Andrew Bloomfield, 44, was diagnosed when he was 16 and has been defiantly dealing with the condition ever since.

His mother, Marion, who lives in Petts Wood, has spent two years making knitted bears for Paydens pharmacy in Station Square to fund research that may one day help her son.

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However, staff discovered on Friday, May 10, that the charity box was missing.

"I was upset and disgusted that somebody could actually do that," Andrew told News Shopper.

"The pharmacy staff were upset too because they know how much it meant to my mother."

It was estimated that around £90 may have been inside the box.

Andrew’s mum started knitting the bears, which are all unique, two years ago when her late husband was ill with alzheimer's and vascular dementia.

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Staff at Paydens, who were praised by Andrew, described Marion as "inspirational" and someone who "always has her smile on her face".

More than £1,200 has been raised by Marion in the past two years.

Around £150 of donations came in online over the weekend from Andrew's fundraising page here.

However, more money is expected to be offered inside the shop this week after an appeal from Petts Wood Residents & District Association inspired generous visitors.

"The response has been quite phenomenal," Andrew said. "I expected a few comments from annoyed people but I didn’t expect this response in fundraising.

"It’s heartwarming that there’s so many people who do care and want to put things right."

He added: "This has increased awareness and we are going to come back from it with more money than what we lost."

Louise Formiggi has worked in the pharmacy for 18 months and told News Shopper that people have already been flooding through the door this morning to help.

"The whole community has come together," she said. "I don't know how anyone could do this but something good has come of it.

"It restores your faith and there’s a good chance whoever took this has seen that, and I hope it makes them feel terrible."

Louise added: "One guy came in and said he would replace the whole lot from what was stolen."

She said she has lost sleep over the theft and paid tribute to Marion.

"She’s incredible," Louise said. "She even made little bears of us working in the pharmacy with little uniforms.

"They bring so much joy to so many and she’s just inspiring."

Andrew suffers from the rare Becker muscular dystrophy and began to feel the affects during his 30s.

The dad uses a power wheelchair when leaving his home and has developed heart failure in the last few years.

The condition weakens his muscles, but Andrew said he carries on to live his life as best as possible.

"I would hope a cure comes in my lifetime," he said. "Whether it will benefit me is something I couldn’t say, but all the fundraising we do goes to research."

Muscular Dystrophy UK is delivering a new collection box to the pharmacy this week, which will be chained to the counter.