IT was supposed to be the night a Hampshire village church moved closer to securing its future.

Instead, a fundraiser for St Matthew's Church in Otterbourne was marred when thieves stripped the lead from the roof the night before.

They also cut through electricity cables to the security lights, causing around £5,000 worth of damage.

Organiser Tony Taylor said: “It’s been a rollercoaster. The vicar said we go two steps forward and one back.

“It’s just extraordinary how these people can do this. I’m staggered.”

But the event raised £3,500, smashing the £2,000 target they had set themselves.

The Chronicle reported in January how the Taylor family organised the fundraising concert to do their bit for the appeal to repair the church’s tower.

Mr Taylor said St Matthew’s had been a focal point for his family for more than 40 years, so when they heard of the church’s plight, they worked together on their idea over Christmas.

Despite the setback, Mr Taylor is undeterred.

“The event could not have gone any better and I guess we will now have to arrange another event to pay for the roof,” he said.

The theft took place at some time between 2pm on February 1, and 10am on February 2.

The offenders gained access to the roof of the vestry and organ room, cutting through the electricity cables to the security lighting.

Police are now investigating and have appealed for witnesses. Anyone with any information regarding the theft should call the police on 101.