A CHURCH is appealing for people to get behind its fundraising campaign to help pay for £20,000 of roof repairs after it was damaged by lead thieves.

The congregation of St James Church in Lower Leigh Road, Daisy Hill, were left reeling when thieves scaled the church and took lead from the roof in three separate raids in November and December last year.

Reverend Gareth Thomas has been fundraising to pay for damage caused by the thieves — but more work is still needed.

St James’ has raised about £15,000 so far, through various events and collections, but still need to find more than £7,000 to pay for the work that has already been carried out.

Mr Thomas said: “We have done really well so far and the support has been fantastic. There is still a little way to go but I am pleased with the amount we have raised in such a short space of time.

“Over Christmas I was thinking how on earth are we going to raise this money but we have done well.”

No one has yet been caught for the thefts but Mr Thomas said he sympathised with the police. He said: “We have not heard anything back from the police yet but I can see that it would be difficult for them if they have not got any witnesses.”

Italian restaurant Andiamo, also in Lower Leigh Road, heard about the appeal and donated its profits from a special charity.

A meal raised nearly £1,000, according to owner Amoroso Carpenito.

He said: “We had about 25 people from the church in and 76 in total. It was a fantastic night. All proceeds are going to the church.

“People from there always come to the restaurant and we are delighted to be able to support the community and do something.”

To donate to St James’s appeal, you can send a cheque payable to St James Church, Daisy Hill, to the church.