OWNERS of an award-winning farm shop have been left heartbroken after £3,000 worth of produce was stolen, Charlotte Neal writes.

The Beechcroft Farm Shop, on Sarum Road near Winchester, is a family-run business, selling lamb, beef and pork which has been reared and produced on site.

Thieves are believed to have broken in between midnight and 7am on Saturday (February 8) through the back entrance after cutting through the fence and forcing the door open.

The shop, which last year won the Hampshire Life Best Farm Shop award, was left completely empty, apart from several sausages and some beef offal.

Rachel Waldron, the shop owner, said it will take a long time to restore the shop to full working order.

“We were on a real high after winning the award last year, and now this is a real low. We have to feed the animals up at the moment to get them through these storms, so we have the food bills coming in. Financially we have minimal income now.

“We hang our beef for 28 days, and although I have a cow that has just gone to the abattoir, we have very minimal stock, and it will take us a while to get back off the ground.”

The shop and farm has been in the family since the 1930s, and newlywed Rachel runs it with her parents Joy and Nick Waldron.

Her father was with her on Saturday morning when they discovered the break-in.

She said: “I went to open the shop as normal and I went out the back to where the chillers are.

“We’ve suffered some storm damage recently, so at first when I saw the door hanging off I thought it was from some strong winds. My dad, Nick, came through with me and that’s when we realised there was nothing left.

“Everything we sell is produced on the farm, and what makes it worse is that our customers really recognise the quality of it, and there will be somebody out there eating the meat that we have worked so hard to produce.

“We had to cancel Sunday farmers market, for the first time, because we had nothing to sell.”

The family have received hand written letters and emails from devoted customers offering their condolences.

Police said there are no witnesses or suspects, and an investigation will be launched.