It was the jewel in the crown of the annual festive hamper raffle prize at the Strathcarron Hospice shop in Stenhousemuir ... and it’s gone.
Generous volunteer Sarah Polson donated a bumper-size bottle of 12-year-old Glenmorangie for a Christmas hamper that always raises several hundred pounds towards hospice funds.
The whisky alone is worth £60, and if the lucky person winning the hamper were a lover of fine single malt Scotch whiskies it would have been the proverbial icing on the cake.
Instead some heartless or desperate crook has used low cunning to filch a key prize designed to make an important contribution to Strathcarron Hospice funds.
“The hamper was sitting on the counter, where anyone coming into the shop can see it,” said manager Lucia Zarebski, “and when we found the whisky was missing we just couldn’t believe it – whoever stole it must have taken it in a matter of moments while we weren’t looking”.
The callous theft must have needed some careful planning, as a larger-than-usual bottle of the national drink couldn’t be slipped into a pocket – it would need to go into a holdall or, perhaps, inside a very bulky coat.
Its loss has taken some of the sparkle from what’s usually one of the happiest times of the year at the Hallam Shopping Centre store, even although there are plenty of other luxury goodies in the famous annual star raffle prize hamper.
It will still be a prize well worth having for the person who owns the winning ticket on December 23.
But the shop staff are baffled at the level of selfishness that would be needed to rob the funds of one of the area’s most cherished causes – particularly at Christmas, a season that’s supposed to be about generosity and goodwill to all men.
Lucia said: “At the same time it’s a great hamper, I’m sure people will still buy tickets, and no doubt it will still be able to add a valuable contribution to Strathcarron’s funds.
“But whoever took that bottle on Thursday should be deeply ashamed”.
Together with senior management at the Hospice itself, they say they are simply glad that this one rotten apple is the complete opposite of the response they see from countless local people on a daily basis.
It’s the generosity and good intentions of the real shoppers, we’re told, that makes it all worthwhile.