The Bishop of Huntingdon has hit out at the “sickening” theft of lead from a village church – the third such attack in recent years.

Thieves stripped thousands of pounds worth of lead from the south aisle and both sides of the lady chapel at All Saints Church, in Wickwick, last Monday.

The attack came just days after work to repair the damage caused by the last theft had started and the incident, the third theft since 2011, has prompted an angry reaction from church officials.

The Bishop of Huntingdon, Dr David Thomson, said: "This is absolutely outrageous. Winwick is a tiny community who have made a heroic effort to repair the damage caused by a previous theft, and actually grown as a church as a result.

"This sickening further theft will be a real blow to them, though, and donations or information about the perpetrators will be most welcome. This sort of crime against society has got to stop."

Last year, the church was fortunate enough to receive a grant for £37,000 from the Church Building Council to help repair damage caused to the nave in the 2011 thefts.

Parishioners had to raise thousands of pounds as a contribution towards the costs on that occasion but, in light of this latest attack, Rector Mary Jepp fears the congregation may have lost heart.

She said: "Last year, Winwick was one of the churches that got a share of the building council grant. They had to contribute something towards those repairs so all the extra money they had has gone into those repairs.

"Now they are at the point that, because they had had lead stolen twice before, the concern is whatever we get from insurance will only be a portion of the actual cost.

"I fear that the congregation will get to the point where they are really disheartened. They have worked their socks off, they have worked so hard, but every time we turn around there is something else, it's just exhausting."