A RADCLIFFE church is still struggling to come to terms with the devastating effects of lead theft from the building's roof.

Heartless thieves targeted St Thomas and St John's Church several times last year, in addition to a significant attack discovered in December 2018, in which much of the roof was stolen.

Without its lead roof the Grade II listed church has been left riddled with leaks causing water to flood in and wreck its interior.

Vandals also recently caused damage to the church tower, with stones though to have been thrown at the clock face.

The resulting destruction is leaving the church facing tens of thousands of pounds worth of repair costs, and parishioners are say they are in desperate need of extra financial support.

Carol Cain, vice chairman of the parochial church council: said: "The problem is you don't know what's happened until the water starts coming in, and it has created a lot of damage.

"I don't know if there's even any lead left because we have had quite a lot of lead thefts. It's devastating.

"The insurance will pay out, but because it's been so long we are having problems costing it all.

"Then the clock tower was broken. I don't know if someone had been throwing stones, but it has broken the face of the clock. It's one thing after another."

Work is currently underway to strip back water-damaged plaster from the church's walls which then need to be replaced at some expense.

However, the remodelling has at least had one unforeseen serendipity when a surprising discovery was revealed­ ­— a concealed, "hobbit-sized" door.

To help fundraise for the plaster work, St Thomas and St John is set to host a local history evening.

Fascinating talks will be given by Mike Dudley ­— entitled Growing Up in Radcliffe and Railways in Radcliffe ­— exploring anecdotes, memories and histories of life in the town.

At the same time, St Thomas and St John is also continuing to appeal for support to help restore its historic organ.

The rare instrument was built by craftsmen William Hill & Son in 1863 and was originally the second organ to be used at York Minster.

It was acquired by St Thomas and St John in 1904 and was previously awarded an historic organ certificate and listed as an instrument of importance to national heritage.

Repairs needed to return the organ to its former glory, however, have been estimated at a cost of around £200,000.

Mrs Cain said: "We fundraise all the time for different things and our historic organ, which is very prestigious, will cost hundreds of thousands of pounds to repair. We cannot fundraise that amount alone.

"Congregations are dwindling and they tend to be mostly made up of the elderly and asylum seekers so it's a very difficult situation.

"And we are not the only ones in this situation. I imagine most churches are."

The Growing Up in Radcliffe local history event will be held at the church from 7.30pm on March 14. Tickets are £6 and include a pie and peas supper.