Suffolk churches are facing an onslaught of lead theft attacks. Over the past three weeks alone, seven Suffolk churches - including internationally renowned 'wool churches' like Lavenham and Stratford St Mary- have seen whole aisle roofs ripped out & stolen by organised criminal gangs.
Devastated communities are now facing months, or years of fundraising to repair this desecration and replace at a cost typically of £100,000 per church.
Many churches and chapels of all denominations across Suffolk are at risk because they do not yet have an alarm system.
So the Suffolk Historic Churches Trust (SHCT) has launched an urgent "Alarms for Churches Appeal", so that alarm systems can be installed on the roofs of churches at risk as fast as achievable. Following negotiations with an approved security alarm supplier, the Trust is offering to cover half the cost of involved, up to a value of £2,500 per church. Trustees are guaranteeing to pay this for the first ten churches who apply and are now launching an appeal, so that many more vulnerable churches & chapels in Suffolk can get the same financial support .
The SHCT is appealing for the people of Suffolk to support the appeal so more churches are properly protected and can secure full insurance cover.
"Current ecclesiastical insurance policies will only pay the first £7,000 of a claim if no suitable alarm is installed," explained Martin Favell, the Chairman of the Trust, "but many churches and chapels simply cannot afford the cost of these alarms. When a church is targeted local people are faced with massive repair bills, not only to replace the missing lead but also repair the considerable rain damage that can result from the theft. Alarms not only act as a really effective deterrent, but also their presence means that were the worst to still happen, their insurance will cover the cost of the damage. "
"The SHCT are asking the people of Suffolk to help with a donation, however small, either via JustGiving http://www.justgiving.com/suffolkhct or by sending a cheque made payable to SHCT to The Secretary, Suffolk Historic Churches Trust, Brinkleys, Hall Street, Long Melford, Suffolk, CO10 9JR".
Martin added, "if the people of Suffolk really get behind this appeal, we can have a huge impact in deterring the criminals and saving these buildings which define the Suffolk landscape and are a treasured part of our towns or villages".