RUTHLESS thieves have targeted a church collection box in a spate of attacks as volunteers work hard to regenerate the historic site.
St Lawrence's Church in Evesham has been the victim of two thefts and some vandalism over the past two weeks less than a year after the building underwent £200,000 worth of vital repairs.
The latest incident took place on Wednesday, March 19, and saw the 12th century church's collection box broken into and damaged with the thief making off with about £26.
George Le Roy, volunteering officer for the Churches Conservation Trust, which runs the Grade 1 listed building in Abbey Park, said the organisation was extremely disappointed with the thefts as they were appealing for volunteers to enable the growth of the church as part of a tourism regeneration project.
"We have had a lot of problems with vandalism recently so today (Thursday) we had to shut the church," said Mr Le Roy. "Just over the last few weeks it's been really targeted.
"The wall safe where we have the donations, they have had money from it twice. The problem is the damage it causes and we have to repair the wall safe.
"We are now keen to encourage the residents of Evesham to keep and eye out for the church because I am sure it's not something they want to happen.
"Apart from this the church has been going from strength to strength."
As part of the regeneration the Churches Conservation Trust plans to invest further to develop the historic building as a heritage tourism attraction.
The church currently attracts over 40,000 visitors a year from abroad and all over the country and under new plans the church will provide a welcome hub for visitors and interactive interpretation to engage people of all ages with the history of the church and its link with the town and Abbey.
In order to make this a success the church is appealing for new volunteers to help bring the plans to fruition.
Mr Le Roy added: "The new roles needed include visitor welcome volunteers to give a warm greeting to visitors and tell the fascinating stories of the church and a community co-ordinator to help us to develop the new volunteer team.
"The next few years are going to be a very exciting time for St Lawrence’s. This is a great opportunity to get involved and play a major part in placing the church firmly on the heritage tourism map in Worcestershire."
For more information on volunteering conatct Mr Le Roy on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07900 214199. For information on thechurch visit visitchurches.org.uk.