A crowd-funding page has been set up to help a village church after it was targeted by thieves three nights in a row.
All Saints at Greetham, three miles outside Horncastle, was visited by thieves in the early hours of last Wednesday, July 24, who removed the lead from the roof covering the nave and half of the chancel.
The thieves made two further attempts at removing the rest of the lead, but were thwarted in their attempt by a colony of bees and a dedicated churchwarden and his faithful dog.
David Ashton-Hill has been churchwarden at All Saints for 17 years and is determined the thieves should be brought to justice.
Aware there was still lead that could be taken, Mr Ashton-Hill decided to take action.
He said: “The theft is very upsetting and I was certain the miscreants would return to take the rest (of the lead) from the chancel area.
“The next night, I left the lights on, but they still came back. However, they didn’t realise there was a colony of bees in that part of the roof, so they left pretty sharpish.
“The next night, I decided to sleep in the church with Bruno.
“At about 12.15pm, there was a loud bang - obviously the ladder going up against the side of the wall.
“Bruno woke me up with his barking and it also frightened off the thieves again.”
There have been no further attempts.
The original theft was discovered when a village resident went into the church last Wednesday morning and found the building swimming in water following rain overnight.
Mr Ashton-Hill said: “I believe the lead has been taken to order and the offenders knew what they were doing, as the sheets of lead had to be cut to be removed.
“There are people who are right up against it and I have great sympathy for them, but it pains me enormously when somebody does something like this just for the money.
“I see it as a personal affront.
“There should be a certain amount of respect for what the building is for, and towards the generosity of the people who have contributed towards it.”
The roof has been made watertight with a temporary roof, but the cost of repair for the long term will run into tens of thousands of pounds.
Mr Ashton-Hill added: “It is going to be hard to get the money. We are a very small congregation, having only four services a year.
“However, the building is important it is the only community space here.
“We have harvest supper and meetings here as there is no village hall, so it is an important asset to everyone in the village.”
A crowdfunding page has been set up to raise £20,000 towards the cost of repairs.
Vicar of All Saints, the Rev Charles Patrick said: “We are devastated.
“All Saints has served this village since medieval times yet in one night, thieves have left it vulnerable and in need of help.”
To make a contribution to the fund, click here