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Victim of heartbreaking lead theft in Hethersett backs new Norfolk church alarm campaign

PUBLISHED: 06:20 04 August 2017 | UPDATED: 10:03 04 August 2017

Rector Rev Derek McClean, at St Remigius Church in Hethersett, who is supporting the Raise the Alarm scheme after a raid at the church in 2015. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Rector Rev Derek McClean, at St Remigius Church in Hethersett, who is supporting the Raise the Alarm scheme after a raid at the church in 2015. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

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A new fundraising scheme to help protect Norfolk churches from roof raiders is being backed by a vicar who has experienced the devastation of lead theft first-hand.

St Remigius Church at Hethersett where the lead from the nave aisle roof has been stolen. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYSt Remigius Church at Hethersett where the lead from the nave aisle roof has been stolen. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Roof Alarm Scheme has been launched to try and 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, which is backed by this paper, has been given the support of the Revd Derek McClean, rector of the Hethersett Benefice, after they have boosted their own security following a roof raid at St Remigius Church almost two years ago.

The congregation was left heartbroken after thieves stripped almost a fifth of its lead in a raid, in October 2015, which came just as they had finished a three-year £100,000 project to repair a slate section of the nave roof.

Revd McClean said he felt “angry” and “numb” following the crime.

He said: “It’s (lead theft) not victimless.

“As time goes on it really does affect things and you find yourselves thinking why did you do this.

“It costs our community a lot of money to maintain a building like this and then to raise another £50,000 on top of that was even worse, it was really heartbreaking and the outrage of the local community on top of that just added to it, no-one could believe it happened.”

Revd McClean praised the “generous, generous support from the local community which has enabled them to raise the money needed to have the roof repaired with a steel replacement and a hi-tech alarm and CCTV system fitted.

He said the alarm system provided “peace of mind” which is why he “absolutely” supported the Raise the Alarm Scheme, particularly if it could provide help to churches with smaller congregations who might find fundraising more difficult.

The scheme, which is spearheaded by Norfolk’s police and crime commissioner (PCC) who has pledged £100,000, and supported by the Bishop of Norwich, who has put up £50,000, and other church groups, has already received £250,000.

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.


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