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World News

Vandals return to church where medieval windows were used as target practice

by Donna Birrell

Vandals have returned to a church in Hertfordshire less than a week after it suffered thousands of pounds' worth of damage. 

St Mary Magdalene's in Caldecote was first vandalised on Thursday 29th July, ten days after it had re-opened following a huge renovation.

Yesterday, volunteers say more windows were broken and they believe a door was forced.

It comes as members of the public have donated more than £3,000 to help towards repairing the  damage.

Volunteer, Grazyna Tutak, tells Premier about the latest incident:

"Yesterday morning, we noticed that there may have been another attempt to enter the church. On this occasion the church was locked because the cleaning operation hasn't quite finished. But there were signs pointing to the fact that some people had returned to the church. They may have been the same people, I don't know. But more windows were broken. And there was evidence that somebody tried to force the door open. But luckily, the locks held fast. 

"It was disheartening, it really was disheartening that the second attack should happen barely a week after the first one. But the police are taking it very, very seriously. On this occasion, we have got footprints, we have got a very good description of the people who came first time and we have got fingerprints."

St Mary Magdalene's was closed in 1974 and is now mainly used for community events and for an annual candlelight carol service. 

Last week, vandals set off fire extinguishers, leaving the interior covered in white dust and they took pot shots at the stained-glass windows. Grazyna Tutak says these will be costly to repair:

"It was a shock and disbelief when we saw the church. All that wanton act of vandalism was received by us in a very painful way. The windows are plain glass, but an old medieval glass. The glass is in the shape of little diamonds. A few of these were broken - the vandals decided to use these windows as target practice. And that that was also disappointing because this is the damage that will probably be the most costly."

The church shared photographs of the damage on social media and donations of more than £3,000 have poured in. People have also travelled from miles around to help with the clean-up operation:

"The response and support from the general public has been absolutely heart-warming and surprising. People have left very warm and encouraging messages on our Facebook page. People have offered to send donations and funds. And people turn up - complete strangers, not just friends of the church or relatives but complete strangers - sometimes from further afield with offers to help. 

"We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the kindness. I cannot tell you how much the generosity of the public has contributed to the church funds. It is my understanding that we may have enough to pay for the replacement windows, which is extremely encouraging.

"Not everyone can pray, but just supporting us by just sending us words of encouragement, I think is a prayer of some sort. All the financial support, that has put so much faith in us and so much belief in the goodness of people that in fact, it's very controversial, but all these horrible events have really strengthened our faith in the goodness of humans and the human spirit."

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