Church 'devastated' as thieves strike twice

A church’s dream of building a memorial garden for fallen soldiers has suffered a setback after thieves stripped lead from its roof, causing thousands of pounds of damage.

Vandals targeted Windsor’s Holy Trinity Garrison Church, in St Leonards Road, between 6pm on Sunday, October 23, and 9am the following day, and then targeted it again a week later.

They clambered onto the 19th century church’s high-level roof and tore off strips of lead before throwing it down onto a lower roof which caused some of the building’s internal ceilings to collapse.

Steps were taken to protect the church but days later, it was struck again as more lead was stolen.

Churchwarden Steve Holton said: “Our congregation and our community were completely devastated by the first theft and then to be targeted again, probably by the same perpetrators, has left us in total shock.”

Forensics teams from Thames Valley Police (TVP) swept the scene and a temporary roofing contractor has been called in by the church.

But it is estimated that long-term repairs will cost tens of thousands of pounds and it is unclear how much of the damage will be covered by insurance.

Messages of support have flooded in from the public and a donate button has now been set up on the church’s Facebook page, with more than £1,000 already raised.

In June the church unveiled plans to build a memorial garden honouring the 54 soldiers from the Household Division who died in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

The project, estimated to cost £160,000, included plans for a garden containing flora from both Middle Eastern countries alongside two original cavalry horse water troughs and a commissioned sculpture.

Treasurer for the church Brandon Mudditt said the memorial garden is still on track to be completed for Remembrance Day 2018 but the unexpected extra costs will mean it is more of a stretch to get the money to fund it.

He said: “Now our fundraising efforts are put into two projects, not just one.

“It is a set back and it means it will be more of a stretch for us.”

The inside of the church is covered by the insurance but the church expects it will have to cover the cost of replacing the roof through fundraising efforts.

Brandon added: “Because the excess is so high for the roof we only trigger the insurance for a catastrophic case like a fire.”

The full cost of the two thefts is expected to be known some time next week as the cases are being examined by an insurance provider and loss adjuster.

Police were called to the church on Wednesday, October 26, but it is believed the lead was stolen on October 23.

TVP was called again on Monday following reports the church had been targeted between Sunday and the following day.

Call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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