A church has been left with a £20,000 bill to repair its roof after metal thieves stripped it of lead, leaving water to pour in.
The Eucharist service at St Luke’s had to be abandoned half way through after a rain from a thunder storm began to gush in from above.
The congregation and church staff grabbed mops and buckets to try and deal with the flooding, with the fire service called in to help in the clear up and efforts to protect the pews and inside of the chapel.
A check found sections of lead on the roof had been stripped away, with the damaged caused in the wake of a copper theft from the canopy of the Tunstall Avenue building.
Emergency repairs have been carried out, but now the church is looking to raise £20,000 to cover the cost of long-term work to replace the lead with another material to prevent yet more thieves targeting the roof.
The cost of the incident, which is being investigated by police and has also left wood inside the building marked and a carpeted area used by children damaged, will not be entirely met by insurers.
It is thought the raid happened some time in the fortnight, but only came to light when the bad weather hit.
A Raise Our Roof donation page has been set up and in the meantime, the church still needs to raise money to cover its day-to-day costs.
The team of church wardens say parishioners have been left “distressed and sorry” about the attack.
Jennifer Carroll, of St Luke’s Ways and Means Committee, said: “Thanks to the concerted efforts of the church parishioners and Hartlepool’s fire brigade, the majority of the water has now been cleared and the drying out process now begins.
Due to the fact that lead theft from churches is rife, insurers will only pay a minimum cost towards repairs.Jennifer Carroll
“Due to the fact that lead theft from churches is rife, insurers will only pay a minimum cost towards repairs.
“This means that we have a large shortfall that we need to address to allow us to continue our varied community work.
“This will have a knock on effect to all the children’s groups who utilise the church such as the toddler groups, scouts etc, and may have long term implications as insurance costs rise.
“It is so important that we can raise funds and minimise the effect this theft has had.”
Preparations are continuing ahead of the church’s garden part on Saturday, July 8.
It will run from 2pm to 4pm and the day, which has a theme of ‘on safari’ and will welcome special guest will be H’Angus the Monkey.
The event will be fancy dress, with a parade at 3pm.
Jennifer added: “Despite our recent disaster we are determined not to let it dampen our community spirit and this fun for all the family event is set to be the best yet.”
Donations can be given to the Raise Our Roof fund via https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/st-lukes-hartlepool
Anyone with information about the theft can contact Cleveland Police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.