A RECTOR in Damerham is looking to raise £10,000 after lead was stolen from the village church’s historic bell tower.

Reverend Leslie Player said his “heart sank” when he discovered the lead had been stolen from St George’s Church: “This church is precious to the community, and it means so much.

“The behaviour really is so mindless, so short-term, and you just can’t believe someone would act so wantonly.

“The unfortunate reality is that so many churches suffer from this sort of thing.”

The lead was stolen from the church bell tower at some point after New Year’s Eve, when thieves climbed 35ft to reach the lead.

The lead has inscriptions on it dating back to the 18th century.

Rev’d Player added: “It [the lead] has been used to tell the story of people who have lived in the area for many years, with inscriptions relating to the Battle of Jutland in 1916, and the Battle of the Nile in 1798.

“All of that history is gone.”

Rev’d Player has praised the response from the community, which at the time of print has seen more than £3,200 raised online to replace the roof.

He said: “The local response has been amazing.

“People in the area have been so generous with their time and money, and it goes a long way to counter-attack the sadness.

“We were facing a financial outlay anyway because there was work due to be done, but there has been an enormous positive response which will help with the work.”

A statement from Hampshire Constabulary said: “We received a report at 4.11pm on January 3 that lead had been stolen from the church tower roof at St George’s Church in Church Lane, Damerham.

“Anyone with information about this incident is asked to contact police on 101, quoting 44190003250.”

To donate to the church’s appeal, go to justgiving.com/crowdfunding/st-georges-roof