QUICK thinking volunteers helped to save a church in Broughton from further damage after lead was stolen from the roof leaving it exposed to the elements.
Retired builder John Neale, who volunteers to look after the church, lives in the rectory building next door to St Lawrence’s Church.
On Sunday it was discovered that lead had been stolen from the roof of the chancel, leaving a 40ft by 12ft hole and the church open to the elements.
John assembled a team of eight people who removed the altar, moved pews and went in with mops, buckets and sponges to quell the water damage.
Two roofers then went up and fixed an emergency tarpaulin in place to protect the church’s interior, which includes a wall painting of St George slaying a fire-breathing dragon.
John said: “The rain was pouring in and we were getting wet inside the building. I would like to say a huge thank you to the volunteers who helped out in the mopping up operation.”
And South East Director of the Churches Conservation Trust, Peter Aiers, added: “The theft of lead from church roofs is becoming all too common in our region, and can cost many thousands of pounds to replace.
“However, leaving the roof open to the November weather could have caused unthinkable damage, potentially affecting the delicate medieval wall paintings within this Grade I listed church, which are of national importance.
“The quick action of John and Richard Neale and the other volunteers at St Lawrence’s over the weekend has helped to save this beautiful place for the future, and while the damage will still cost a great deal to put right, it could have been much worse.”