Trust in bid to protect Huntingdonshire churches from lead thieves

St Swithin's Church, in Old Weston, has seen its lead stripped.

St Swithin's Church, in Old Weston, has seen its lead stripped. - Credit: Archant

Historic churches across the district will be protected from lead thieves if a fundraising campaign is successful.

Cambridgeshire Historic Churches Trust is raising money to buy specialist roof alarms for churches to deter thieves and is about half way through a programme for between 50 and 60 buildings.

Cambridgeshire police and crime commissioner, Jason Ablewhite has promised £10,000 towards the fund as a crime deterrent.

Churches across the district have been the victims of lead theft, including Bluntisham, Old Weston, and Caxton, in which thousands of pounds worth of the valuable metal has been taken.

Thieves can also cause even more damage to the historical buildings with the first sign of a theft often being rainwater running through the roof.

Denis Payne, appeal secretary, said: “It is probably closer to 60 churches and we are about half way there. We feel it is tremendously important.

“These churches are an important part off the community and are something we should be looking after to pass on for the future.”

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Mr Payne said rural communities in particular often struggled to pay for the upkeep of listed churches, let alone take into account the cost of repairing damage caused by lead thieves.

He said the alarms cost about £5,000 each and the aim was to pay for half the cost to the church.

Mr Payne said insurers were now insisting on the specialist roof alarms, without which the only support the church might get is a temporary covering.

He said the money offered by the police and crime commissioner would be able to help about half a dozen more churches.

Mr Payne said the appeal was becoming more urgent as a key area of funding only ran to the end of the year.

More advanced alarm programmes were taking place in Norfolk and Suffolk, Mr Payne said, and there was a chance that this could push more thefts into Cambridgeshire.

He said that every donation of £1,500 would help fund another alarm and protect a church.

Mr Payne said they would be “most grateful” for any support and that he can be contacted on 07450 850970 or at