MORE than £1,000 has been raised for a young community stalwart in Malmesbury.

Ben Thornbury, 15, can often be seen keeping the streets of Malmesbury clean.

While cleaning Park Road bridge on Saturday, his coat containing his wallet was stolen.

After hearing of the incident and, unbeknownst to Ben, Malmesbury resident Jif Wilkins created a GoFundMe page to help fund a new coat for the considerate teen – and within just three days, £1,248 was raised by residents across the town.

Ben said he was overwhelmed by the response.

He said: “Thankfully the incident was resolved quickly and I got my coat back later that day.

“I didn’t know of the fundraising page until it popped up on my Facebook feed later that evening.

“Myself and my parents don’t know Jif so it was a huge surprise. I was just overwhelmed, I couldn’t believe how much was raised, the total just went up and up.

“I don’t expect money from anyone for what I do around the town, the comments give me the motivation to get out and do volunteering work.”

Jif decided to keep the fundraising page open after hearing of the safe return of Ben’s coat and wallet.

He said: “I still think Ben more than deserves the money.

“He’s already been in touch to say that the first things that he will be buying are a new cart and tools to help him continue the great work that he already does.”

Ben says that some of the money will be put back into the community.

“I might get a nice new trailer to put the bin bags in. I’ve wanted that to help with my efforts for a long time.

“People have said to spend the money on myself as well, so I will get some protective clothing and some wellies.”

Although Ben has been busy litter picking and wiping down rails, he says there has been a significant different since the start of the pandemic in March.

“There hasn’t been as much litter since March.

“The lockdown’s have definitely made a difference to the town and the amount of litter that is left on the streets.

“People have told me that it’s been such a positive change.”

Last month, he revealed his joy at receiving a Christmas card from Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his fiancee Carrie Symonds.

The card came after Ben received Boris Johnson’s daily Points of Light award in September for helping vulnerable members of the community during the pandemic.

He set up ‘Malmesbury Coronavirus Advice and Support’ at the start of lockdown, an online platform connecting 65 local volunteers to people in need and offering a variety of services, including prescription collection, grocery shopping, dog walking and welfare checks via phone.

Prior to the outbreak, Ben has been active in supporting his community through local clean-up campaigns.