Hitchin church secures £35,000 windfall for urgent roof repairs after tip-off

Vicar Michael Roden

Vicar Michael Roden - Credit: Archant

The vicar of Hitchin’s historic parish is giving thanks to the Comet after securing a welcome £35,000 windfall to put towards urgent roof repairs.

The hefty financial award was channelled through a roof repair fund scheme launched by Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne in his December 2014 budget to address urgent roof repairs needed at ancient churches across the country.

The St Mary’s grant was part of a wider funding package of £30 million on offer to churches.

The little-known scheme was spotted by eagle-eyed editor John Francis, who tipped off the church.

After receiving confirmation of the grant, Hitchin’s team rector Michael Roden, who is also vicar of St Mary’s, said: “The Comet has risen to the rescue of St Mary’s.

“It’s great the Comet as a community newspaper spotted this grant which has come our way.

“Special thanks to John who kindly made me aware of the grant being available. It’s fantastic news, we’re all delighted.

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“For centuries people have looked after this building and it’s a privilege to be a custodian of this lovely building. We try and make sure our church belongs to everyone and plays a large part in the community.

“We still have a long way to go in terms of reaching our target – but what this type of fundraising does is help us continue with the important community work we’re trying to do.

“We’re very grateful the Comet has supported St Mary’s, and offer our thanks to John and his eagle eye. I think we’ll now be handing out the Comet newspaper at our Easter Services!”

John said: “News is what we do – in the paper, online, and out in the community. This was good news for the church, so I passed it on.

“I knew of the church’s need because of our regular coverage of restoration at the site, and when I spotted a government release about the grant scheme I just put two and two together.”

The annual Good Friday Walk of Witness through the town centre leaves Bancroft Gardens at 10.30am tomorrow, with the walk finishing with an open air service at 11am in Market Place.

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