Hornchurch church vows: Thieves won’t catch us napping

�A Hornchurch vicar and his parishioners have again taken to bedding down in their church to deter metal thieves.

The Rev Barry Hobson, organist Andrew Losq and eight others are taking it in turns to sleep at St Andrew’s Church in High Street after the Grade I listed building last week suffered its tenth roof attack in five months.

The raiders are after the church’s Rhodesian copper, which has been part of the building since the 19th century, to sell on as high-value scrap.

The latest incident saw pews and carpet covered in rainwater, which poured in through a hole in the roof caused by the intruders.

It came days after the church’s �300,000 organ – which is nearly 100 years old – was badly damaged in a similar incident.

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Now parishioners plan to continue their night shifts until the roof is completely alarmed.

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But the damage is already in the hundreds of thousands of pounds and insurers are only prepared to pay �10,000.

Mr Losq said the church is determined to bounce back.

“It’s going to be long and difficult but as a parish we are pulling together and we will be reaching out to the local community for help in any way they can.

“The town grew up around the church so it is the town’s history.”

Felt roofing has been fixed to the 800-year-old building as a temporary measure.

St Andrew’s will be holding fundraising events including a quiz night tomorrow (Saturday).

n For further details call the parish office on 01708 44157.

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