Lead thieves have forced a church where a war hero’s funeral was held to close its doors.
Villagers turned out en masse to St John the Evangelist at Dipton, near Stanley, County Durham, to mourn Sapper Daryn Roy, 28, in May 2010.
They draped their homes with England flags and posters of the young man they watched grow up NZ1553 : Former Red Lion pub, Dipton
He was killed in a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on May 3rd 2010.
The 130-year-old church NZ1553 : St John the Evangelist Church Dipton
with panoramic views over the Derwent Valley has closed due to a falling congregation and a hefty repair bill.
Churchwarden Les Toward said thieves had stripped lead from the roof of the church tower NZ1553 : St John the Evangelist Church Dipton
, and that had led to water pouring in and causing untold damage.
“A large part of the church has had to be closed off for health and safety reasons, the plaster is falling in.
“We had a meeting to try to get support in the village but only a couple of dozen people turned up.
“The church is still open for services but only part of it can remain open, and it will close permanently before too long.”
Mr Toward, 81, said the churchyard would remain untouched.
Durham county councillor Reg Ord added: “The damage caused by the water once the lead was stolen from the roof would cost £75,000 to repair.
“Falling masonry was causing a real danger. A meeting was held recently but only around 20 people turned up.
“It was decided reluctantly that there was no option but to close the church.
“It is very sad indeed but there are only 12 people in the congregation.
“They will go to worship elsewhere, either at Leadgate or Harelaw.
“At the moment services have to be held in the vestry.
“But it is a real shame for the community. A village needs a school and a church, and now we are losing our church.”
Five years ago a fund was launched to repair the crumbling church tower to allow the bell to ring after it had been silenced – again due to health and safety.
Mr Toward said: “We raised the money to repair the tower and got the bell ringing again.
“Then the thieves struck and took the lead off the roof.
“It was a real kick in the teeth but now we simply cannot afford to continue.”
Meanwhile, residents of Dipton have launched an appeal for a new war memorial in Sapper Roy’s home village.
But they stress the memorial will honour all servicemen from Dipton who have lost their lives in conflict.
Daryn’s uncle, Derek Hindson, 60, who lives in Dipton, is spearheading the appeal, and the aim was to raise around £5,000.
'St John the Evangelist at Dipton to close after thieves strike' The Journal 2 May 2013 Link
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