A heartbroken father-and-son have been forced to cancel bookings after thieves struck at their successful paintballing business.

Andy Whittaker and son Jordan Lewis-Skipper said a year's hard work was wiped away when they discovered thousands of pounds worth of equipment had been stolen from their Pro Paintball site on Gretna Road, Carlisle.

A number of paintballing guns (BT Omegas and Combats) were taken, along with a yellow Bauer air compressor, petrol chainsaw, gas canisters and other equipment, after thieves forced their way into a gun room.

Jordan, 23, said: "We were absolutely gutted and we are still in shock."

The pair had poured their life-savings into creating their family-owned business.

"[It's been] a full year of hard work, sweat and a lot of money, taking so little from the business. We have reinvested, replaced, upgraded and renovated the paintball site," added Jordan.

The crippling theft has left the father and son scrambling to cancel and reschedule bookings with the hope they can scrape enough money together to replace the stolen goods.

"We have liability insurance, but were unable to get contents cover because of where the business is sited. We had locks on everything, but they managed to break these. They knew what they were taking, the most expensive items," said Jordan.

"It was a horrid time, discovering the break-in, calling the police and cancelling that day's bookings, which amounted to £700.

"Nothing had been taken from the reception area, but when we went into the gun room we noticed the locks had been ground off. We were expecting it to be stripped bare."

"This setback has all but reset our full year, the road ahead looks foggy and upsetting, but we hope to come back from it with all the help of our great customers," he added.

Jordan and Andy have offered a £500 reward for information that leads to the recovery of the goods. And a posting on social media has resulted in 50,000 hits, and has been shared hundreds of times.

"It’s going to have a very adverse effect on the business but we are determined to keep going," Jordan said.

"We would be happy to accept donations until we get back on our feet. In the meantime we are looking at trying to source second-hand equipment.

"We will pursue this legally to the end, but are completely gutted."

Security at the site has since been tightened.

Anyone who would like to help the pair should telephone 01228 597726.

Cumbria Police are appealing for any witnesses to come forward following the burglary, which happened sometime between March 15, and March 19.

Anyone with any information or any sightings of the stolen items should call PC 2167 Mitchelhill on 101 or CrimeStoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.