Repair works start after lead theft at Carleton Forehoe church
- Credit: Archant
A village community is standing united in the wake of a devastating raid of its church's roof lead.
Work is now underway to repair the damage to St Mary the Virgin church at Carleton Forehoe, near Wymondham, after a gang of up to 11 thieves stole most of its lead overnight between May 30 and May 31.
The lead removal meant rain could flood into the 14th century church, damaging kneeling cushions, a hand-pumped organ, 171-year-old bible and hymn books.
Church council member Val Evans said: 'The first reaction was shock and horror, and then it was 'how can we help?'
'In a funny kind of way this has brought us together. We don't have a pub, a shop or a school, so the church is what unites us in any case.'
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The church committee is planning to host a series of fundraisers.
Half of the proceeds from a concert at the Wymondham Baptist Church at 7.30pm today will go to the church restoration fund, and the other half will go to the Wymondham Dementia Support Group.
Donations can be made online at crowdfunding.justgiving.com/stmaryschurchcarletonforehoe, or directly to the church's bank account at Barclays Wymondham, account number 90774332, sort code 20-99-08.
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As part of its Stop The Roof Raiders campaign, the EDP and its sister paper, the East Anglian Daily Times, are offering a reward of at least £26,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible.
Standing firm after damage
Ivan Revell-Burrows, who has been the church's warden for decades, said he was devastated by the damage, which he discovered when he visited the church two days after a wedding had taken place there.
He said: 'I was horrified. The lock on the gate had been obliterated.
As soon as I saw that I realised what had happened. We've always been fearful of lead thefts, and in 2010 we lost some lead, but it wasn't this extensive.
'It's beyond belief that people are prepared to cause such damage to a place of worship, but we're carrying on as usual despite the upheaval inside.'
Rev Tim Weatherstone said he expected repairs to cost about £30,000. A temporary roof has already been put in place, and there will be a service on Sunday at 9.30am.