A band that has embarked on an 11-month tour of the UK have been left distraught after their van and £25,000 worth of equipment was stolen in County Durham. 

The Mercians, a five-piece band who pride themselves on delivering music to schools across the UK to promote mental health awareness, had parked up in Bishop Auckland on Sunday (September 17) evening.

But when they arrived back to get the vehicle on Monday (September 18), at Bondgate North car park in the town, the vehicle had vanished, along with the instruments belonging to the band. 

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The band, who had all quit their full-time jobs only two weeks ago, are now urgently appealing to anyone who has seen the van - highlighting that everything in the van is "all they own".

Speaking about the incident, the lead singer of the band, Matt said: "We came back to the car park and thought it was a joke at first. 

"We then started to realise what had happened, and we pulled together and started to contact the police and insurers."

The Northern Echo: The van that was stolen in Bishop AucklandThe van that was stolen in Bishop Auckland (Image: THE MERCIANS)

The incident happened to the band on their return from Scotland, where they have been playing a week-long run of shows at schools. 

Despite fearing that they might have to cancel shows in County Durham and the wider North East this week, generous schools have stepped in to lend them equipment. 

The Northern Echo: The MerciansThe Mercians (Image: THE MERCIANS)

However, the band, who have offered a £1000 reward for the safe return of their van, now question the longer-term plan for their UK touring.

So far, the band have seen a great outpouring of support on social media, which has seen a post about the stolen van shared over 2000 times, while names in the music business, such as Reverend and the Makers and Andrew Cushin have sent their support for the band.

The Marcians' guitarist, Owen, added: "We have seen a huge response in a short amount of time, with almost 150,000 people seeing our post. Hopefully, the van will be found.

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"Our livelihoods were in that van - we quit our jobs two weeks ago."

Alongside the online support, the band have had help from business owner Sam Zair, who gave them free breakfast after The Mercians have been staying above Zair's Cafe in Bishop Auckland.

It's hoped that insurance will cover the stolen vehicle - but if anyone has information about the stolen van, they are asked to contact the police on 101 and also contact The Mercians on social media.