Thieves stripped an historic church of its lead just days after a worshipper passed away after overseeing the completion of a £30,000 project to renew and repair the roof.
Members at St Denys, Goadby Marwood, estimate the bill to replace the stolen lead will be up to £100,000, as well as the cost of temporarily covering the building, which dates back in parts to the 12th century, to protect it from bad weather.
The late former churchwarden, Ray Cook, had only recently celebrated the end of work to reinforce the roof to see it through the next few decades and never heard about the subsequent raid, which will mean another major fundraising campaign will have to be instigated.
Neil Rogers, one of the current churchwardens, told the Melton Times: “It’s sickening that this has happened.
“Almost the worst part is that Ray oversaw all the roof repairs just before he died.
“It was one of his last ambitions to see the work finished and he would be mortified to hear that all of our lead has now be stolen.”
Church members are now hoping they will be able to replace the lead with a substance which is less costly, and more importantly, not as attractive to thieves.
“We are hoping we will be able to use stainless steel or zinc instead of lead, particularly as Historic England have said now that they do not always require lead for lead replacements on church roofs,” added Mr Rogers.
Gangs have now made off with lead from five historic churches in the Melton area in less than a month.
Just a few days after the Goadby Marwood theft, the lead was also stripped from the entire roof of 13th century St Leonard’s Church at Holwell.
These raids follow swiftly after lead raids at churches at Thorpe Arnold, Ab Kettleby and Plungar earlier last month.