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Toilet rolls stolen from church to stockpile for coronavirus

PUBLISHED: 13:22 12 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:48 12 March 2020

If the loo-roll runs out, we're in trouble, says Steven Downes     Picture: Denise Bradley

If the loo-roll runs out, we're in trouble, says Steven Downes Picture: Denise Bradley

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Rock-bottom has been reached after thieves stripped a church clean of its toilet rolls to stockpile for coronavirus.

The discovery was made on Sunday, March 8 at St Mary and St Margaret's Church on St Margaret's Drive in Sprowston, on the edge of Norwich, according to church warden Sue Ellingham.

Anyone can use the toilets within the grade one-listed building from 10am-4pm Monday to Sunday and they are used by people visiting the cemetery, churchyard, those seeking peace within the church, coffee mornings and community groups for disabled people and children.

Mrs Ellingham, who has been church warden for three years, said people had taken tea and coffee from the public kitchen in the past but never toilet roll.

MORE: Public gatherings could be restricted as government set to move to 'delay phase'

Rev Canon Simon Stokes (fourth from the left) at St Mary and St Margaret's Church in Sprowston. Photo: Steve AdamsRev Canon Simon Stokes (fourth from the left) at St Mary and St Margaret's Church in Sprowston. Photo: Steve Adams

She said it was 'common sense' that it was linked to people stockpiling amid fears of the virus spreading in the community.

The Rev Canon Simon Stokes said it was a surprise after discovering the toilet roll had been stolen.

He said: 'There is a sense of disappointment. We keep the church open for people to use it. My anxiety is that if anyone needs the loo the facilities are available for them.'

He had never experienced such an item being stolen from a church in his 28-year career.

St Mary and St Margaret's Church in Sprowston.  Picture: ANTONY KELLYSt Mary and St Margaret's Church in Sprowston. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Mr Stokes added: 'It does seem that people are very fearful and frightened and that seems to be catching. People are stockpiling different things. You can put two and two together and make five but my assumption is it is linked to coronavirus, but who knows.

'My worry is if someone is in real need, contact us. It works best if everybody respects everybody. The church is there for the community.'

The churchwarden added: 'It is incredibly unfortunate that people chose to remove the toilet roll from the church for other purposes. It would be an unfortunate resolution.'

MORE: West Norfolk coronavirus: GP cancels appointments while nearby town is deserted

St Mary and St Margaret's Church in Sprowston. Photo: Steve AdamsSt Mary and St Margaret's Church in Sprowston. Photo: Steve Adams

She added that if people were struggling financially to afford these types of items then they could speak to church members for support.

The church warden said the problem was resolved and it was important for the kitchen, toilet and religious building to stay open for the community.

'An awful lot of people use the facilities. It is very important that churches are open and welcoming.'

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