A CHRISTMAS tree raising money for those less fortunate has reportedly been stolen - but organisers say this 'mindless act' will not dampen the community spirit displayed throughout the scheme.

The tree has been outside Waitrose on West Street, Bridport since Saturday, December 5 with residents encouraged to bring their own baubles and lights to help decorate the tree as part of a community project organised by cocktail bar, Dark Bear, to raise funds for Bridport food bank, Cupboard Love.

There was a sign in place next to the tree, courtesy of local printers Footeprints, with a QR code on allowing people to donate easily.

Sadly, the tree appears to have been removed from the area in an apparent theft on Sunday, December 27.

A spokesman for Dark Bear said: "Sadly our community Christmas tree in aid of the Bridport food bank was stolen.

"This mindless act doesn’t detract from how everyone in the community came together and raised some money for a good cause and a great festive cheer with the quirky and fun decorations.

"People loved it, I’m really glad it cheered lots if folks up whilst they were queuing and there must have been 40 or so decorations in the end."

They added: "We’ve found a few of the ornaments that the thieves left behind so if you’d like to claim yours please do send us a message."

The Dark Bear team were able to raise a total of £300 through an online cocktail masterclass and donations made through Waitrose.

All the money will be donated to Cupboard Love, a foodbank aiming to support homeless people, families and single people in the Bridport area who find themselves in need of emergency food supplies.

Carrie Gamble, co-ordinator of Cupboard Love, said: "It's really disappointing and not what we expect in Bridport where the community support for Cupboard Love through these difficult times has been tremendous.

"However, on the whole, Dark Bear's community Christmas tree was a brilliant initiative - a bit of fun for the town generating donations for the foodbank. As always we are extremely grateful to Dark Bear who have supported us on numerous occasions."

Dark Bear will be offering a brunch pack for those nursing a hangover on New Year's Day. For more information, visit www.darkbear.co.uk