A CAMPAIGN to raise £10,000 following the theft of lead from a “truly special” Hampshire church is already approaching the halfway point.

A large number of donations have been made since villagers learned that thieves had targeted the top of the bell tower at St George’s Church in Damerham.

The Rev Leslie Player, who said his heart sank when he discovered the theft, launched a crowdfunding appeal online in a bid to fund repairs.

It has already raised £4,215 – 42% of the target figure – and money has also come in from other sources.

Arron Shutt, one of the benefactors, left messages on the justgiving page: “It’s terrible how someone can do this to a historic building that is a great asset to the local community.”

Ann Spencer described the grade-one listed church as “truly special”.

Avril and Jim Mowbray added: “We love St George’s. Here’s hoping your target is met soon.”

Mr Player said: “We’ve had a brilliant response to our appeal and are already about halfway there. To raise so much money in a week is extraordinary.

“St George’s is very precious to people.

“They were shocked and appalled when they learned what had happened and wanted to do something to put things right.

“Parishioners have been so generous with their time and money. It goes a long way to counter-attack the sadness.”

The thieves climbed 35ft up the 11th century bell tower to steal the lead, which was covered in inscriptions dating back to the 18th century.

Mr Player added: “They took quite a risk with their own safety as well as taking a liberty with our church.

“The lead has been used to tell the story of people who have lived in the area for many years, with inscriptions relating to the Battle of Jutland in 1916 and the Battle of the Nile in 1798. All that history is gone.”

A watertight membrane will be placed over the damaged roof and will remain in place while the church devises a long-term solution.

Anyone with information about the theft should call police on 101, quoting 44190003250.

To donate to the appeal visit justgiving.com/crowdfunding/st-georges-roof.