A TREE surgeon has been left devastated after his work equipment worth more than £20,000 was stolen by heartless thieves.

Chris Heywood, 24, from Bolton but based in Astley, had his van looted and stripped of equipment on Tuesday evening.

Chris has run his own business - Heywood Tree Services - since he was just 16-years-old, and has worked hard to build up his service.

The thieves stole his van, which was later recovered, along with a wood chipper, tools and other equipment. The total amount stolen adds up to around £22,000.

Chris was also duped into handing over thousands by the thieves who promised the return of the equipment - but never did

But Chris has said he just wants to get going again and a fundraiser has been set up to help the young tree surgeon get back on his feet.

He said: “I am a proud person. I started the business in a little Peugeot 208 with a hand saw and some ladders - they took everything. I was up driving around the morning after and eventually it was found by a woman in Golborne who rang me and stayed with the van until I arrived, but it was totally wrecked.

“I got a call from someone who said they had my stuff and would give it back for £3,500. In the state I was in, it seemed like a no-brainer. But when I got there they said they needed more and I couldn’t get my equipment back.

“If you knew me, you’d know how much I loved my job. I just try and give the best service. I want people to see Heywood Tree Services and think; ‘that’s a good guy.’”

A fundraiser has now been set up to help Chris with funds to purchase new equipment.

The fundraiser hopes to “help get him and his company up and running again”, with dozens of donations flooding in and thousands of pounds already raised.

You can find it by searching for ‘Help local Tree Surgeon get back on track’ on gofundme.com.

Chris has decided to take a few days off to recover from the ordeal, but is keen to get back out and doing what he loves.

He added: “I just want to get some equipment and get straight back at it to show people what it means for me to be back in business. People know what’s happened to me but I’m still striving to be my best.”