'We want people to know that this is their community building' - Preston church in desperate fundraising appeal after roof stripped of copper
Half of the roof of St Christopher’s C of E Church in Blackpool Road, Lea, was removed in overnight raids on Thursday, June 20 and then again three days later on Monday, June 24.
Although ecclesiastical insurance will pay out £7,500 for a roof claim, at least £20,000 will be needed for a roof replacement.
But instead of lamenting the situation, vicar Rev Peter Hamborg and his congregation are keen to rally the community to find positivity in the situation.
He said: “It’s a sad situation that someone can do something like this to a church, but we also have to see the positives.
“It’s an opportunity for us to do something that’s needed to be done for a while. The roof was tired .”
The theft has been reported to Lancashire Constabulary, but Rev Hamborg has been told there are no leads to follow, and there have been no sightings by local residents.
Such has been the worry about thieves coming back that Rev Hamborg has been parking his car across the car park entrance to prevent access, lights have been left on all night and extra chains and padlocks have been installed.
Serious consideration is being given to manning the building overnight.
Roofing firms have been called to assess the situation, who say the building is “not in a desperate state”, but there was some water ingress around the piano area on Saturday morning.
Rev Hamborg said: “The forecast is good for a couple of weeks now, so it looks like God is looking after us! But this potentially could have a big impact on the work that we do here in this building. It’s a real hub of the community so a lot is at stake.
“We want to safeguard the material of the church and the wonderful activities that go on within it.”
St Christopher’s is used for church work and services, but also functions as a community centre with a full-time nursery operating during the week, as well as use by Scout and Guide groups, Slimming World, a tea club, dance clubs and children’s parties.
Rev Hamborg said: “As a church we have to take professional advice from an architect and the Diocese in terms of what material we can use.
“We won’t be able to get the roof replaced for under £20,000. And we do want to replace all of it as it’s something that’s needed doing for a while, and why leave something up there that might entice thieves back?
“We will be using a different material anyway as what’s up there is very difficult to get hold of now.”
He added: “I don’t like asking for money, but the reality is that we will struggle to raise the funds needed just by relying on our regular users.
“We would really appreciate the help of the Preston community and beyond. This would also help people take ownership. We want people to know that this is their community building.
“A recent post on the St Christopher’s Facebook page showing the roof theft was viewed by over six thousand people. If every one of those people gives one or two pounds, we would have what we need.”
To donate to the crowdfunding appeal, visit: www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/martinslongbikerideOr email: [email protected]