Living on a Prayer? Carleton Forehoe church halfway there in efforts to raise £50,000 to repair roof stripped of lead by thieves

Ivan Revell-Burrows, church warden, in front of the damaged roof of St Mary the Virgin Church in Car

Ivan Revell-Burrows, church warden, in front of the damaged roof of St Mary the Virgin Church in Carleton Forehoe, near Wymondham. Picture: STUART ANDERSON - Credit: Archant

A church community has passed the halfway mark in its efforts to raise £50,000 for a repair fund following two devastating lead thefts.

Contractors work to seal the damaged roof of St Mary the Virgin Church in Carleton Forehoe, near Wym

Contractors work to seal the damaged roof of St Mary the Virgin Church in Carleton Forehoe, near Wymondham. Picture: STUART ANDERSON - Credit: Archant

About £1,000 was raised at a music and supper evening in Wymondham at the weekend for St Mary the Virgin Church in nearby Carleton Forehoe, bringing the total raised since last year to £28,000.

Meanwhile, efforts to replace the roof with a steel, instead of lead, roof, have been given support by church and heritage bodies.

Philip Richardson, lay chair of the Barnham Broom and Upper Yare group of churches, said: 'In view of the isolation of the church and the fact that there have been two significant lead thefts within a year - and three in 10 years - the use of this alternative material should deter any further thefts.

'Both the diocese and the historic buildings agencies appear sympathetic and willing to fast-track the application.

The damaged roof of St Mary the Virgin Church in Carleton Forehoe, near Wymondham. Picture: STUART A

The damaged roof of St Mary the Virgin Church in Carleton Forehoe, near Wymondham. Picture: STUART ANDERSON - Credit: Archant


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'In the meantime, the remaining lead on the church has been removed and a temporary covering installed to prevent further weather damage to the interior.'

Roof raiders stole lead from the church in May last year, and the 14th-century building was again targeted overnight on March 9 by criminals, who also cut through a fence and hedge to get their vehicle onto the site.

Last year's raid also lead to flood damage to the church's interior.

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Mr Richardson said he was delighted with how the fundraising was going so far, but said: 'There is still a long way to go to reach the new target. 'Carleton is a very small village and the fund raising load falls on very few shoulders.

'If readers would like to help they can contribute to the fund by cheque to the Group Treasurer, Church Barn, Southburgh, IP25 7TF, marking their contribution 'Carleton roof repair'.

'Alternatively, providing they do not require acknowledgement, they can transfer money electronically into the account, identified similarly, to account number 80153273, sort code 20-99-08 in favour of Barnham Broom Group fund.'

As part of its Stop The Roof Raiders campaign,this newspaper and its sister publications are offering a reward of at least £26,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.

Message from Rev Dr Tim Weatherstone, rector of the Barnham Broom and Upper Yare Group

'I am very grateful to Historic England, the Diocesan Planning Committee and the Norfolk Churches Trust for their support as we seek to get our roof replaced. St Mary's Parochial Church Council has worked very hard to get us to this point where all the required forms and documents have been gathered together and submitted to the various authorities in a little over a week.

'It has been a great team effort. People from outside the parish as well have been very kind as shown in their giving and their sympathy.

'It is perhaps paradoxical that it took something as unpleasant as this to demonstrate what we all know to be true, which is that the majority of people are generous, kind-hearted and concerned.'

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