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Yorkshire grandparents devastated after life savings stolen during Storm Babet flooding

Couple Phil and Dawn Henderson have lost their life savings when thieves stole more than £30,000 in cash which they had moved from their home when it was flooded during Storm Babet, pictured at their home in South Yorkshire. (Photo: Lee McLean / SWNS)
Couple Phil and Dawn Henderson have lost their life savings when thieves stole more than £30,000 in cash which they had moved from their home when it was flooded during Storm Babet, pictured at their home in South Yorkshire. (Photo: Lee McLean / SWNS)

Phil and Dawn Henderson hid three bags of money and jewellery under a bed in their motorhome as rising water from Storm Babet threatened their property.

The married couple had been putting cash aside to buy a gravestone for their son Jay Henderson, 36, who sadly died last year from liver failure.

Phil, 68, and his wife Dawn, 65, who have run a fishery and campsite at their home in Mexborough for 20 years, were previously ‘wiped out’ by flooding in 2007, 2019 and 2022.

Jay Henderson died in August. His parents had been saving for his headstone. (Photo: Carrieanne Henderson / SWNS)
Jay Henderson died in August. His parents had been saving for his headstone. (Photo: Carrieanne Henderson / SWNS)

After getting a government warning to ‘prepare’ for rising river levels on October 19, they'd moved their life-savings into their Fiat Kon-Tiki motorhome on higher ground.

Phil said: "We never had suspicions that there was anybody nearby. We were ten yards away from my front door, loading my motorhome.

“All the lights were on in the house. We’d been preparing all day, and I’d filled the motorhome with stuff - all our life savings - and put them under the bed.

“But we noticed that my awning had been moved, and got into the motorhome. My wife said, ‘Check the money’ and it had all gone.

“They'd lifted the bunk bed up but didn’t find it there.

“They then pulled the cover off the front of the passenger seat, because that’s where they put safes in motorhomes, but it wasn’t there.

“Then they lifted up a bunk behind the driver’s seat, and that’s where it was - two handbags full of cash and another bag full of gold."

At 11.45pm, CCTV footage from a neighbour's property picked up two men riding down Phil and Dawn's lane on a motorbike, who left around 11.55pm.

At 12.15am a grey hatchback approached their property before leaving ten minutes later - which Phil suspects was carrying the thieves.

Their life savings had included £33,000 in cash along with gold jewellery and diamond rings, valued at around £7,000 in total, which they put under one of the beds.

The couple had planned to use at least £14,000 of the money to pay for a headstone for his son, Jay, who passed away on August 30.

Phil, who has been receiving treatment for bowel cancer, said: "I lost my son last year, and then this has happened. It’s absolutely devastating.

"You can’t put into words how we feel and how we’re going to move forward after this.

"They’ve hit the jackpot. They just robbed us. And we’re flooded as well.

“I can’t see a way forward. I can’t rebuild the business because where we live, in the house, it’s just gone. And I haven’t got cash to do it.”

A spokesperson from South Yorkshire Police said: "We were called to reports of a burglary on 20 October at 1.24am.

"It was reported that a large amount of cash and jewellery were stolen from a camper van.

"Officers have completed CCTV enquiries in the area and enquiries are ongoing."

Phil and Dawn’s family have set up a fundraiser to help them as they try to rebuild their lives.