Relentless and destructive thieves hit churches

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From: Catherine Watson, Chairman Hatfield Church Building Trust, Norman Road, Hatfield, Doncaster.

FOLLOWING the articles about the theft of lead from church roofs (Yorkshire Post, September 7), I would like to add Hatfield Church, Doncaster to the list.

We have been using Smart Water on the lead for some years but we have still had a number of thefts during the past few years causing damage to the Church fabric and anger among the congregation, but in July there was major damage caused by the theft of lead requiring £130,000 to repair.

Hatfield Church is a Grade I listed building and has been at the centre of life in Hatfield since about 1150, and although there may have been vandals in previous centuries, I doubt whether there have ever been those that have caused so much outrage and distress than the present ones have.

After the theft in July our Vicar, Rev Paul Wilson, launched a major “Raise the Roof Appeal” through the Parish to raise the money. Leaflets were delivered to 5,000 houses and the response from the community has been encouraging, but we are still far short of the amount needed for the repairs.

As correctly reported in the Yorkshire Post, the Ecclesiastical Insurance company will not pay out any more than £5,000 per annum for lead theft because of the nationwide epidemic.

As I write this letter I have just heard that the thieves returned last night and stole some more of the remaining lead from the roof.

Hatfield Church PCC has now agreed to replace the lead with terne coated stainless steel after advice from the church architect, which has a lower scrap value than lead. Can we then be free of these destructive thieves? I hope so.