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Raiders target Claydon church

PUBLISHED: 11:24 03 August 2001 | UPDATED: 15:16 03 March 2010

HEARTLESS thieves have rewarded a Claydon couple's hours of effort in keeping a historic churchyard trim and tidy by stealing valuable gardening tools worth hundreds of pounds.

P1 pic/story with pic in fotostation

By James Fraser

james.fraser@ecng.co.uk

HEARTLESS thieves have rewarded a Claydon couple's hours of effort in keeping a historic churchyard trim and tidy by stealing valuable gardening tools worth hundreds of pounds.

The two callous thefts happened as volunteers Lin and Eric Munson worked in the churchyard of the village church of St Peter's – which their tireless gardening has put back on the tourist map after it fell out of use as a place of worship.

Their work has even won plaudits from national charity The Churches Conservation Trust, who were impressed with the startling turnaround.

But the couple, who are both in their 50s, have been left stunned by the thefts which came within a fortnight of each other.

"We've now managed to make it a place worth visiting once again after it had become quite overgrown," said Mrs Munson, of Paper Mill Lane, who with her husband, a plasterer by trade, give up 15 hours of their spare time a week to help out.

On the afternoon of July 2 thieves struck as they mowed the grass and broke into Mr Munson's van, breaking his back window and stealing two strimmers worth more than £300.

Then thieves had returned a few days later – this time making off with two lawn mowers and a lawn rake which the couple had left in the church.

The couple discovered the theft when they turned up to mow the grass.

"Perhaps we were naïve to leave the equipment in the church. But to transport all the equipment from our home to the church, Eric would have to unload his plastering gear – and that takes a lot of time and effort," said Mrs Munson.

St Peter's Church, which has parts dating back to Saxon times, is the final resting Reverend George Drury and family is buried – the man who caused national scandal in the notorious Akenham Burial Case.

After refusing to bury a two-year-old boy who had not been baptised, he almost came to blows with a non-conformist minister who conducted the service instead.

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