My glider bag (and all its contents) was stolen from Featherstone railway station platform yesterday. I'd landed there from Rushup and left my bag tucked in the corner of a little platform waiting room while I ran to get a drink from a shop. The platform was deserted and I was only gone a few minutes, so it was immediately obvious that whoever picked it up had done so quickly and deliberately.
There were two lads in a black car parked by the platform ramp when I got back, and I asked them if they'd seen anyone move my paraglider. They said no but they could ring the cops for me... but then just drove off as I asked another person who was walking by.
Knowing the person couldn't have got far with it I spent the next ten minutes in a panic: I ran madly up and down the road looking for it, asking people if they'd seen anyone with it, and ringing the police. But nobody seems to have seen anyone carrying my huge (and heavy) glider bag, and after an hour I'd got myself in quite an emotional state. I was dehydrated, angry, frustrated and exhausted... and was achieving nothing.
Chris Ashman kindly picked me up from Sheffield station later yesterday evening and took me out to get my car from Mam.
In hindsight the lads in the car are prime suspects. The police originally said they could check local cctv, but later rang to say that the case had been closed as it had been passed to British Transport Police, who would be dealing with me from now on. Got a call from them, but the guy seemed mostly interested in getting details and serial numbers and didn't think they had CCTV on the station. I mentioned the other cameras I saw (there are cameras at the crossing and down the street) and he said he'd look into that possibility, but would be away now until Thursday, and would call me then.
The stuff that's gone is:
U-turn glider bag
Mac Elan 26 (green blue white)
Advance Impress II harness (& Metamorfosi reserve)
Garmin 76csx, Kobo mini, Digifly Flyer, Puxing radio, Icaro helmet, Campark action camera, Dare2B jacket, Mii power pack, flask, wind meter, shorts, jumper, gloves, mitts, etc.
I don't have any insurance but I'm sure in time it can all be replaced. I am also physically fine, I have a lot of good friends and in many ways I really couldn't ask for more. But that bag not only contained most of my most treasured possessions, but also represents lots of memories and kindness too. I've chosen a shoestring lifestyle, but such a lifestyle has only been possible because of people's generosity over the years. Mark Bosher didn't want me to tell anyone, but he generously gave me that Impress harness years ago. The Elan (the newest glider I've ever owned) was offered to me by Steve Hudson on ridiculously generous terms, as was the reserve by Scot Thornhill, the Garmin by James Stubberfield, the vario by Paul (Mushroom Man) West, etc. My Kobo was a present from Chris Sangwin and my posh blue jacket was gifted by Drew McLaughlin.
After landing in the park I'd spent a good hour with a load of friendly children (and a couple of adults), letting them sit in the harness, play with the vario and ask questions. They wanted to know if the flight would be on youtube so I promised I'd do one, and so I let them use my camera to create their own video pieces, promising I'd put the best bits into my final video. But of course, the camera's gone.
So the whole affair's rather set me back a fair bit financially but also emotionally. Thanks to those who have already offered support and love and even offered the loan of equipment to help get me in the air again. At a time like this I'm particularly aware of the value of such good-hearted friends. I've taken a hit, but all in all, I know I'm actually a very lucky man!
Please keep an eye out for any of it, and I'd welcome any wisdom / tips on what's best to do. I'm planning on driving over there to make more enquiries today.