A church just outside Huntingdon has been left “blighted” by criminals after thieves stripped tens of thousands of pounds worth of lead from the church roof.

The lead was stolen from Saint Andrew's church in WoodwaltonThe lead was stolen from Saint Andrew's church in Woodwalton

Villagers in Woodwalton have been fundraising to get St Andrew's church reopened, after being left redundant for many years.

Now owned by the Friends of the Friendless Churches, the church was stripped of the lead on the roof, with damage was also caused to masonry, on April 30, meaning it may take up to £70,000 to fix.

Members of the community joined the Friends of Friendless Churches, a charity group which focuses on helping redundant historic churches in England and Wales from demolition and decay by campaigning for them.

The 'Friends of Woodwalton', who now own the church, have been fundraising to reopen the church to regular worshipers, as at the moment it can only be used for occasional use.

However, more damage has now been done to the church, meaning that instead of fundraising £10,000 for it to reopen, volunteers will have to riase £70,000 to repair the damage.

Rachel Morley, Director of the Friends of Friendless Churches told the Hunts Post that volunteers have been left "distressed" by what has happened, as it isn't the first time lead has been stolen.

Rachel said: "The church is suffered from severe structural movement - it has been for decades. We are constantly working to arrest this - a costly undertaking for a tiny charity like ours. The church has been blighted by theft on numerous occasions. As such, from the photos, the covering you seen on the aisles looks like lead and the thieves obviously thought they were in luck - but in fact, this is a membrane - the lead from the main roof slopes was stolen some time ago. This time they got the lead flashings and damaged the stonework."

The Hunts Post also believes that the church is the only remaining community building in the village, after the village hall closed in December.

Rachel said: "There is a local group of Friends who work tirelessly to care for, use and celebrate this Grade II* listed church that was in a state of dereliction when we took it on.

The church, though removed, is the only community building remaining. The east coast mainline passes the church just a few hundred yards - the church is seen my millions of people every year.

"It is so distressing for all involved to see this venerable, vulnerable church targeted in this way."

A spokesman for Cambridgeshire police said: "Between 6am on 30 April and 9.30am the following day lead flashing was stolen from the roof of St Andrews Church in Woodwalton. Damage was also caused to masonry as part of the theft.

"Anyone with information regarding this incident should call police on 101 quoting 35/30175/19 or visit www.cambs.police.uk/report. Alternatively, contact Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111 or via www.crimestoppers-uk.org."

To donate to the Friends of Woodwalton fundraising visit: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/st-andrews-wood-walton.