This column last week celebrated the courage of two local youngsters who were showing great fortitude in the face of dreadful illnesses.

This week we pay tribute to some other unsung heroes in the heart of our community.

South Lakeland Carers supports 193 unpaid young carers aged five to 19, who look after family or friends with disabilities, mental health and other problems.

There are youngsters who can spend hours each week caring for parents and siblings. It can be a tough life - these are children who, in an ideal world, should not have to face such serious responsibilities.

They do not always get the opportunities of their peers to enjoy socialising and go on holiday.

That is why South Lakeland Carers is such an important organisation. It provides practical and emotional support - and also organises residential trips to give the youngsters a chance to have a break from their caring roles and to spend time with other young people.

Such breaks are hugely important and so it is a tragedy that the group's latest venture - a three-day trip to Manchester - was ruined by thieves who raided a minibus packed with the carers' precious belongings.

Among items snatched were a teddy bear bought by a girl for her four-year-old brother, who has autism and epilepsy; irreplaceable photographs; plus cameras, clothes and mobile phones.

The incident has understandably left the young carers 'devastated'.

It is the nature of thieves that they presumably give little thought to the effect their actions have on their victims. But there is something particularly heartless about anyone who can take items from a minibus clearly marked with the words 'Cumbria Community Transport'. Surely they must have realised this was not an ordinary public transport vehicle and that stealing the items inside would have an even deeper effect on the property's owners?

South Lakeland Carers is appealing to the goodwill of local businesses to offer support to the youngsters - perhaps replacing some of the items or helping to organise another treat for them. We back that appeal wholeheartedly.