Stoneleigh church calls for Olympian effort to save roof

CHURCH workers in Stoneleigh are hoping the Olympic spirit will help them raise more than £260,000 for urgent repairs to a historic building.

Former Commonwealth middle-distance champion and Coventry’s lead ambassador for the 2012 Olympics David Moorcroft is launching an appeal to repair the nave roof and stonework at St Mary the Virgin church.

The former British record-holder, who has family connections to the village, will be giving a talk at Stoneleigh village hall on Friday March 30 to start fundraising.

Decay to the structure beneath the copper roof means it is not properly supported and may split - with serious consequences.

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Parochial church council treasurer Syd Creed said: “If anything happens to it, if there’s any damage, the water will pour in. If it goes any further it will crack and copper is vulnerable to water.”

The copper nave roof is believed to date from the 1950s and urgently needs renovating. If the metal fails, rain will get in, accelerating damage to the beams beneath.

Experts who have worked on Coventry Cathedral say the whole structure needs taking apart and rebuilding and some beams may need replacing.

Repairs to crumbling stonework around the windows on the aisle are also urgently needed to stop water getting in.

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The parochial church council has already raised some £42,000 from the National Churches Trust and a private charity but needs to find a further £263,000 and is seeking help from English Heritage.

The Grade I listed church is Norman in origin with a Romanesque arch dating back to around 1100. Additions were made in the 17th and 19th centuries and the church’s Georgian box pews are a special feature.

Churchwarden Ian Smith said the church was still a central part of village life for baptisms, weddings and funerals, and said it would be “disastrous” if the roof was damaged further.

He said: “There is no alternative. The roof is in such a state that water could get in at any moment.”

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The talk will be held at 7.30pm in Stoneleigh Village Hall. Tickets cost £15 and include refreshments. Call 853238.