Church members launch £165,000 fundraising campaign after spate of lead thefts

St Mary the Virgin Church, Wyfordby, which has suffered three lead thefts in the past two years EMN-170310-125353001

Members of an historic village church near Melton which has been raided by metal thieves on three occasions have launched a campaign to raise £165,000 to pay for repairs to the building.

As well as re-roofing and pointing, there is a need to restore the bell frames and re-hang the two ancient church bells and carry out structural repairs to the bell tower at Wyfordby Church.

An information event with refreshments is to be held on Saturday, from 2pm to 5pm, where members will outline their plans.

The aim is revitalise the church again following the thefts of lead from the roof in 2015 and last year.

Treasurer Julia Hawley said: “We are a tiny community but this church serves the people of Wyfordby, Brentingby, Saxby and Stapleford.

“Although the successive metal thefts are an enormous blow to us, we are determined to turn this into an opportunity to improve the church as a centre for the wider community.

“There is no other community building in our villages so we hope to install running water, and removing the redundant pipe organ, which came to us 50 years ago from Sage Cross St Chapel, will free up an area for a kitchenette and toilet so that we can broaden the use of the church.

“The pews are rotting and will be removed to create a flexible space and we will be investing in new flooring, heating and re-wiring.”

The stunning Grade 2 listed building has been a place of Christian worship since the 13th century.

A previous community effort saw it restored in the 1960s after a period of redundancy and, in recent years, Saxby church has been closed and sold off so the community is determined Wyfordby Church remains for future generations.

Rev David Cowie has taken over as the new priest as the fundraising begins for the new era.

Mrs Hawley added: “Despite our difficulties, we have ensured throughout the last two years that services at Wyfordby have continued, including funerals, harvest, Easter and carol services, all of which have been well supported.

“There is a fantastic community spirit and we now have a new priest in charge to help us re-energise the church and make it fit for the 21st Century.”

Fundraisers are to apply for a range of grants, including from the Heritage Lottery Fund, and they welcome any further help with fundraising or practical matters relating to the restoration project.

Wyfordby Church will be decorated this weekend in preparation for its Harvest Festival service, which takes place at 11am on Sunday, followed by a ‘Bring and Share’ ploughman’s lunch. Cheese and bread will be provided and produce, books, cakes and other items will be on sale.

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