Gosberton Parish Church is still feeling the after-effects of lead stolen from its roof in the spring
The impact of back-to-back lead thefts is still being felt at Gosberton Parish Church where rain is coming through its unrepaired roof.
A determined effort by church workers and villagers to protect the Grade I-Listed building from water damage brought on by the theft of up to 12 tonnes of lead from the roof in May is running alongside an £80,000 fundraising appeal.
So far, about £12,000 worth of donations have been made to fund roof repairs and the fitting of an alarm system.
But the Rev Ian Walters, vicar of Gosberton, has appealed to villagers and the wider South Holland community for their help as buckets, plastic sheeting and even a child's paddling pool are used to collect rainwater coming through the church's roof.
Mr Walters said: "We were very pleased that after the thefts, a roofing contractor well-known in the village offered to sheet the roof of the church over for us free of charge.
"This has protected us from the worst of the rain, but every time it does rain, it floods the floor and causes damage to its stonework and woodwork.
"Fortunately, we've got to the point where the first part of the roof repair can be done.
"But we still need another £15,000 to be able to complete the rest of the work, including the installation of a roof alarm with floodlights that are hot-wired to the police.
"The work of a dedicated number of individuals has been phenomenal, including one lady in her 80s who is here to mop up every day after it rains.
"Yet one part of the church is like a disaster area and I wish it was possible for some kind of agency to give us a loan and help us get the repair work done."
A Diocese of Lincoln spokesman said: "There have been 23 churches affected by lead thefts so far this year, compared to 12 for the whole of 2018.
"Lead theft has a devastating effect on parishes as replacing a roof is a significant financial burden, with larger sections costing as much as £40,000 to £50,000 to replace.
"It should be noted that insurance claims fall substantially short of the total funds required which leaves the churches needing to spend time working on funding applications, rather than practising ministry and mission in their community.
"The Diocese's Church Building Team is there to give affected churches the full assistance and advice they need to enable them to secure the building and get the necessary grant funding and repairs completed."
Chief Inspector Phil Vickers, force lead for rural crime at Lincolnshire Police, said: "The offences at Gosberton Parish Church are still under active investigation and are believed to be part of a wider series of thefts of lead from church roofs.
"I know that these offences cause considerable distress in our communities as offences against our heritage and places of worship have a particular impact.
"We know that the financial cost can be £60,000 or more, but the feeling of vulnerability and loss cannot be quantified."