St Albans school's Harvest Festival is saved

PUBLISHED: 13:00 16 October 2009 | UPDATED: 14:33 06 May 2010

St Michael's school pupils with Jill Singer, owner of Kingsbury Barn

St Michael's school pupils with Jill Singer, owner of Kingsbury Barn

A COMMUNITY has united after the callous theft of a large section of roof from a historic church forced it to close. As reported by the Herts Advertiser last week, two funerals and harvest festivals had to be cancelled due to the incident at St Michael s

A COMMUNITY has united after the callous theft of a large section of roof from a historic church forced it to close.

As reported by the Herts Advertiser last week, two funerals and harvest festivals had to be cancelled due to the incident at St Michael's Church in St Albans during the early hours of Monday, October 5.

Thieves stole around a third of the lead from the roof and they or another gang returned two days later to finish the job without success.

The grieving families of two people closely associated with the church were forced to move their funerals to other locations and Sunday's harvest festival was cancelled.

Nearby St Michael's School was also going to have to hold its own harvest festival in the small school hall, leaving parents unable to attend - but local residents Adam and Jill Singer came to the rescue.

They gave the school the use of the nearby Kingsbury Barn in St Michael's village, which they have recently renovated.

Headteacher Sarah Hinchliffe said: "It was wonderful, magical even. We were exceptionally fortunate to be offered the barn.

"It worked really well, the parents brought a folding picnic or garden chair and the children brought along a cushion each in a carrier bag."

She thanked Mr and Mrs Singer and said it was a fine example of the community coming together in the face of the theft, a sentiment echoed by St Michael's vicar, the Reverend Brett Gray, who led the harvest festival service. He has been overwhelmed and "amazed" by the amount of help and support received from the local community since the incident.

The total repair cost including damage caused by rainwater to the interior is estimated to be around £50,000 and the church will need to find at least half of that amount through fundraising and donations.

The nearby Portland Arms pub is donating the proceeds of its upcoming quiz night to the church and a number of donations have been received from the public.

St Michael's School is also thinking about ways it can help and the church is planning to hold a couple of fundraising concerts.

Any donations to the church should be sent to The Vicarage, St Michael's Church, St Michael's Street, St Albans, AL3 4SL.

A temporary felt roof is currently being installed at the church which will hopefully enable it to reopen on Sunday.

Police continue to investigate the theft and anyone with information should contact 0845 3300222.

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