A HAMPSHIRE sports club established in 1881 has launched a crowdfunding campaign after thieves targeted its new headquarters and made off with £400.

Members of Lymington Amateur Rowing Club (LARC) are aiming to collect £1,500 - and have already raised more than half the cash following the break-in last weekend.

Thieves smashed their way into the recently- completed clubhouse at Lymington Shores on Saturday – just two days before the start of the juniors’ new season.

Once inside they broke the storeroom’s lock before stealing money which had been raised by junior members of the club.

Now an online fundraising campaign has been launched by Carol Beaumont and Kirsty Melin.

A statement on the campaign's GoFundMe page says: "We’ve been around for over 125 years and have a thriving junior squad with 20 local 13-17-year-olds who meet every week, whatever the weather.

"Over the summer they raised around £400 towards new equipment.

"We felt sick to have to tell them their hard-earned cash had been stolen in a break-in. It would mean a lot if you could help them get their fundraising back on track.

"For us it's about more than winning races. Rowing builds skills like teamwork, resilience and determination.

"And it’s not just an experience for a privileged few. LARC is run by volunteers and keeps membership fees low – just £10 a month - to make it accessible to all.

"We have a waiting list for new rowers but we need more equipment to get them afloat.

"That doesn’t come cheap but our volunteer members fundraise to make sure the club has boats, blades - rowing speak for oars - and other bits.

"The money our juniors worked so hard to raise was going towards a set of sculling blades, which will enable us to get more rowers out on the water at the same time."

Carol told the Daily Echo: "Our juniors are really active and enthusiastic. The funds raised will replace the stolen cash and give them a huge morale boost."

As reported in the Daily Echo, the new clubhouse was opened by one of the world's top rowers - double Olympic gold medalist Heather Stanning.

The fundraising campaign has already netted £850.

An update on the page says: "After another incredible 24 hours we're now well over halfway towards our target - feeling loved and very lucky to have such amazing supporters."

To donate go online and visit gofundme.com/f/larcjuniors.