Police and crime commissioner’s plea to protect our churches, the ‘jewels in our county’s crown’
PUBLISHED: 09:40 12 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:54 12 August 2017
He was at the forefront of a new scheme to help try and protect our churches and today, police and crime commissioner Lorne Green tells us why it is vital the public give their support and money through the campaign.
Our county, Norfolk, is favoured with the greatest concentration of medieval churches in the world.
These buildings together are a glorious part of our community, county, national and international heritage.
It is given to us, the people of Norfolk to care for them, to enjoy them, to be inspired by them, to love them, and to pass them on intact to generations to come.
All people who profess a faith, and those who claim none, profit equally from the historical connections, the aesthetic qualities of the architecture and decoration, and the community anchor and service these buildings provide.
Let us not be the generation that through neglect or apathy witnesses the break in the chain of our shared heritage.
For once heritage is gone, it cannot be returned.
Today these jewels in our county’s crown are under serious threat.
There are some who see these buildings as nothing more than personal cash cows to be stripped of their assets for their own selfish gain.
An average of three to five churches each month are attacked by metal thieves and have lead stripped from their roofs.
The fabric of the building thus is compromised, left open to the elements, enormous costs of repair imposed on the parish, and a feeling of enormous despair and violation permeates throughout the surrounding community.
Our police are determined to enforce the law and have had some successes, but it is no easy task.
The challenges are great in a big county where criminals launch their attacks in the dead of night against often isolated locations. Prevention is worth a pound of cure.
How profoundly deaf must be these church robbers for they cannot hear the stories that these ancient stones tell.
And what stories they are.
These buildings have been witness to wars and civil war, regicide and restoration.
They have stood firm in the face of pestilence and plague, crop failure and bountiful harvest. The names of monarchs - Henrys and Elizabeths, Williams and Georges - have echoed in their naves. Villages, hamlets and towns have prospered, withered or sometimes died in their shadow.
Listen more closely; you will hear the more personal stories these buildings tell – your stories, those of your family, your neighbours, and your community – you will hear of newborns brought to the font, brides processing down the aisle, the funerals of loved ones.
Listen to the stories of village fetes, concerts, public meetings stretching back to ages past in a continuous thread.
These buildings whisper your personal story, your county and country’s story.
Let’s not allow these voices to be silenced by the callous deaf who show no regard for you and your community.
Let us, as a determined Norfolk community, come to the aid of these buildings in this, their hour of great need.
Together as one in Nelson’s county let us raise the alarm and join the campaign to prevent further attacks on them that risk silencing their voices for ever. Shout back at those stones, “we are here for you” and be as generous as you can.
Raise the Alarm Scheme
The scheme has been launched to try to raise money to fund the installation of alarm systems at some of the most vulnerable of the county’s 650 or so churches.
The scheme, has so far received more than £250,000 after Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner pledged £100,000, the Bishop of Norwich £50,000 and other church groups, including the Allchurches Trust and Norfolk Churches Trust have together pledged more than £100,000.
This will help boost security at about 50 churches but it is hoped the public can help raise a further £300,000 for alarms to be fitted at several other churches in the county.
It is also being backed by this newspaper as part of our own Stop The Roof Raiders campaign.
So far, more than £800 has been raised through donations.
To find out more about how you can donate call the Norfolk Community Foundation on 01603 623958.