Anonymous donation of £10k for Hitchin’s St Mary’s sees start of restoration appeal

St Mary's vicar Michael Roden has been moved by the response from the people of Hitchin

St Mary's vicar Michael Roden has been moved by the response from the people of Hitchin - Credit: Archant

In a week when human values such as compassion and generosity have been commanding worldwide attention, an astounding act of charity has raised the spirits of the team entrusted with the care of a Hitchin landmark.

Colin Eades

Colin Eades - Credit: Archant

Following the damage to a stained glass memorial to the fallen of the First World War at the town’s St Mary’s Church, and a separate panel portraying Jesus Christ last month, an anonymous donor has come forward to contribute a staggering £10,000 towards repairs.

St Mary’s Church Preservation Trust chairman Colin Eades confirmed the giant gift and said: “I’ve been overwhelmed that such a wicked act has been countered by a gesture of unbelievable kindness.

“This kindness and incredible generosity should not go unheralded – and I’m hugely proud our most precious of town treasures means so much to others, too.”

St Mary’s team rector Father Michael Roden also praised the solidarity and offers of aid for the church since the attack.

He told the Comet: “It’s been extremely moving to read the outpouring of affection for St Mary’s.

“It’s wonderful to have the support of the community after the major damage to the church.

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“We’re not going to retreat into a bunker. We think of the building as belonging to the whole community.

“This is a place where Hitchin people look after each other – in good times and bad – and think about the needs of others.

“Around 9000 people attend services here in December. Anyone who lives in Hitchin has a right to be married here, baptised here or to have their funeral here.

“We plan to keep the church more open to the community than ever before.

“We know it’ll be a painstaking artistic job to remake in stain glass the illustration of Jesus and the saints in the damaged parts of the windows, taking some months, possibly a year – but we will get it done, and done well.

“We’re on the way to some of our busiest months. We’ve the town harvest festival on October 18, and we’ll get the church looking beautiful.

“A number of people want to give to keep the church open and thriving which will really help as we operate on a shoe-string – so we’ve set up a JustGiving account called: ‘Keep St Mary’s thriving’.”

A man who was arrested in connection with three incidents of criminal damage caused to St Mary’s Church in Hitchin and St Paul’s in Letchworth in the days following the attack is now on police bail until Wednesday, September 23.

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