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Storms cause £½m church damage

by Rachel Harden

Well out of it: right: members of the crew (photo: Mission to Seafarers) of the stricken cargo ship MSC Napoli (above: AP/EMPICS) after they were rescued by the Royal Navy off the coast of Devon. Two Christian charities provided help for the sailors, who had lost all their belongings. The Mission to Seafarers and the British & International sailors' Society (BISS) both visited the 26 men and gave them food, clothing, toiletries, and phone cards so that they could contact their families . The BISS chaplain, Paul Cave, and a Ukrainian translator spent nine hours offering support.

High winds and storms caused at least £0.5 million worth of serious damage to churches on Thursday of last week, but there were no reports of casualties at them. Ecclesiastical Insurance said this week that it had received more than 250 claims so far.

A pinnacle from Christ Church, Northampton, fell into the loading bay of the neighbouring Tesco Express. No one was hurt, but the churchwarden, Colin Best, said it could have been very dangerous. “It happened over lunch, and the area was empty. Tesco immediately cordoned off the area, and we called experts to inspect the damage. The pinnacles each weigh around three tonnes and are four metres tall, so our initial reaction was relief that no one was hurt.”

One of the clock faces on the tower at Sacred Trinity, Salford, was blown inside, lifting off the roof. The church was cordoned off on the Thursday afternoon for safety checks.

The Priest-in-Charge, the Revd Andy Salmon, said that the main concern was that there had been no one inside. “Once we established there were no casualties, we checked the structural damage. Because the whole roof of the tower was lifted up, the whole structure needs fixing.”

At St Andrew’s, Folkingham, in Lincoln, two of the 16 pinnacles came through the chancel roof. The estimated cost of the damage is expected to be about £80,000.

Brian King of Ecclesiastical Insurance said it was the worst storm in 17 years, and the weather warning had led it to expect large numbers of claims. “It was the worst incident as regards churches we can remember for a long time.”

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