Royston vicar thanks community in wake of devastating church blaze

PUBLISHED: 11:37 11 December 2018 | UPDATED: 15:13 11 December 2018

Emergency services on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOO

Emergency services on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOO

©2018 Archant

The vicar of St John the Baptist Church in Royston has thanked the community for its “outpouring of concern” following a fire at the site on Sunday, which left many shocked and devastated.

Evidence of the fire damage at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOOEvidence of the fire damage at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOO

Rev Heidi Huntley has expressed her thanks to the town and emergency services in the wake of the fire, which has damaged the church’s bell tower, roof and windows – and now police are investigating the possibility that it was caused by arsonists.

She said: “We want to thank our whole community for the outpouring of concern and offers of practical help following the dreadful fire that started in our Royston parish church early on Sunday morning, as well as our wonderful fire and police services who spared no effort to lessen our loss.

“The building is obviously very significant for those of us who worship there, but the amazing response has been a reminder of the very special place that the church has at the heart of Royston in every way – geographical, spiritual and communal.

“We appreciate the kindness expressed through the various fundraising efforts that are being set up to help at this difficult time to restore the church, however, we are launching an official giving page and we would ask that anyone wishing to help would do so through this page.

A Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue drone checks out the damage at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOOA Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue drone checks out the damage at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOO

“Meanwhile, we would like to invite you to join us in prayer: in thanks that no one was injured, and that it appears that the building will at least be repairable.

“For strength and comfort for our clergy and for all those grieving the devastation of a place that has played such an important role in their lives. For guidance on arrangements for the immediate future, particularly for the Christmas season.

“For the grace to acknowledge that God is sovereign, even when things happen that we cannot understand, and which sadden, anger and frustrate us. For reassurance that God loves us and grieves with us – the message of the Christmas season and Jesus’ life and death on earth.

“For discernment of God’s will for us as we move forward, and for courage to seize the opportunities that he presents. May God bless us all this Christmas.”

Evidence of the fire damage at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOOEvidence of the fire damage at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOO

The church said it will be setting up its official giving page soon, however one resident keen to help set up their own – raising more than £1,000 in the first 24 hours.

Funeral directors Newlings of Royston is also raising money for the church, with sherry and mince pies for sale at its base in Fish Hill, while Royston’s district museum exhibited artefacts from the church yesterday.

North East Herts MP Sir Oliver Heald told the Crow: “As somebody who has worshipped at the church and whose family were christened there, I was shocked to see our lovely church so badly damaged.

“We prayed for its renewal and I am sure that arrangements will be made for services over Christmas.

A Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue drone checks out the damage at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOOA Hertfordshire Fire and Rescue drone checks out the damage at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOO

“I would like to thank the emergency services, particularly the firefighters for bringing it under control.

“This is a building of great importance to Royston dating back to the medieval period and I know that many in the town are as upset as I am to see it damaged, but it will be renewed and be better than ever.”

Emergency services on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOOEmergency services on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOO

Emergency services on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOOEmergency services on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOO

Emergency services on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOOEmergency services on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOO

Reqs the fire dog and his handler Nikki from the Herts Fire Investigation Dog Team on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOOReqs the fire dog and his handler Nikki from the Herts Fire Investigation Dog Team on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOO

Emergency services on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOOEmergency services on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOO

Emergency services on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOOEmergency services on the scene at Royston St John the Baptist Church, Melbourn Street after a fire inside. Picture: DANNY LOO

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