DARTS players in South Petherton have helped raise £1,700 for a little girl with brain damage.

The players decided to stage a 24-hour darts marathon at the Pavilion at South Petherton Recreation Ground to help recoup charity money stolen during a break-in at the Emphasis Hair Design salon in the village.

The salon in Market Square was broken into last December and thieves stole £50 float money and about £80 in staff tips.

But staff at the salon, run by Tracey Smith, were left devastated when they found that the thieves had also stolen more than £200 earmarked for the Get Well Somer appeal and £20 for Guide Dogs for the Blind.

Somer Woodley-Dale underwent a nine-hour back operation at Southampton General Hospital in September last year aged 12.

But her heart stopped for 20 minutes following the operation and she was left brain damaged, paralysed on the left-hand side of her body and unable to talk.

Her parents, Paul Dale and Emma Woodley, are raising money to buy a wheelchair for Somer and to pay for her rehabilitation.

When darts players Ricky Hill and Kev Harris heard about the break-in they decided to do something to help and were delighted to present Tracey with a cheque for £1,700 – the proceeds of the darts marathon.

Tracey said: “I would like to thank everyone for their support. It was a shock when we had the break-in and an even bigger shock when we realised they had taken the charity money.”

Somer lives in Basingstoke in Hampshire but has visited South Somerset a number of times and has family living here.

She was diagnosed as a baby as having Noonans Syndrome which causes heart and growth problems and scoliosis, an abnormal curvature of the spine.

Staff and pub-goers at the Brewers Arms in South Petherton held a night of fundraising for Somer last November and a charity auction alone coined in £1,150.

Somer’s grandfather, Steve Dale, said he would like to thank everyone for their continued support.