Help us save our roof, sings vicar dressed as a Beatle at Walpole St Peter’s Church flower festival

A vicar dressed up as a Beatle for a rousing rendition of Help, as he launched a �100,000 appeal to preserve one of the finest churches in the Fens.

As well as raising the roof at Walpole St Peter's Church, the Revd Mike Chesher and his band the Remoulds hoped to kick-start an appeal to save it.

As the church's 50th Flower Festival got under way, Revd Chesher took to the mike and shrugged off the butterflies.

'Let's get it over with,' he said. 'It'll be a lot less painful for you and I'll feel a lot better about it.'

As the Remoulds kicked off the opening chords, the vicar put his own spin on the Fab Four's famous anthem.

He sang of floral displays, home-made cakes and jam for sale, before breaking the news about the church roof without missing a beat.

'This is a great church, the Cathedral of the Fens,' he sang. 'We'd like you to become a Walpole St Peter friend.

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'We've had some bad news, the roof is in a mess - what it's going to cost is anybody's guess. Help us save the roof with 50 grand.'

As the song finished to shouts of 'encore', Revd Chesher said he was tempted to keep the mop-top wig for future sermons.

Both the Chancel and North Aisle roofs at the church - parts of which date back to the 14th Century - are in need of repair.

Revd Chesher, who was a builder before becoming ordained, said dampness had caused roof beams to rot, while lead sheets had slipped, causing leaks.

English Heritage has agreed to cover half of the �200,000 cost of making good the roof.

Villagers hope the church's 50th flower festival, which got under way on Saturday and continues until Wednesday, will help towards finding the remainder, in two installments of �50,000.

A sponsored swim and village lunch have already been held. Future events include concerts, coffee mornings and exhibitions.

More than 10,000 flowers are currently on show inside the church's majestic interior, with roses and carnations scenting the air inside the towering windows.

Acknowleged as one of the finest churches in the Fens, St Peter's is a favourite of Prince Charles, who sometimes brings house guests to marvel at its splendour.