A FORGIVING reverend has pardoned the actions of vandals and trespassers who have caused more than £10,000 of damage to a community-built church.

St Margaret’s Church, in Berechurch, Colchester, stands as a proud monument to the faith and enduring spirit of its congregation.

In 1966 the possibility of building a church in the parish was raised, but there were fears over the cost.

In a remarkable display of solidarity, hundreds of residents, including housewives and soldiers based in Colchester, took it upon themselves to fund and build the church.

After six gruelling years, the new building was opened in 1973.

Since then it has served as a hub and a safe place, a reminder of the value of teamwork and determination.

But for more than a decade, church staff and community leaders have instead had to face the “devastating” actions of vandals and trespassers.

Reverend Andrew Forsyth said the damage had been caused to the church over the past 11 years.

But he feels those responsible should be helped rather than hounded for their actions.

He said: “In the past we have worked with the probation service when youths have been charged, working on building a relationship.

“We want to work with the police and our neighbours, me just shouting and reacting will probably just make it more exciting for them.

“It might be a novelty and fun for them but if one falls down and breaks their neck it will be devastating.

“Our hearts go out to the kids on the roof, clearly they aren’t happy and and there are other things going on in their lives.

“I have to balance my own frustration with my responsibility as a minister and leader of a congregation.”

Dave Harris, ward councillor, called the police when he witnessed a group of youths scaling the building on Sunday evening.

“He said: “They saw the officers arrive and jumped down, nearly hurting themselves in the process.

“It is something like 20ft up and they are also climbing up the spire.

“It’s not just the danger, they knocked a couple of tiles off and damaged the guttering.”

He added: “This church was actually built by the community.

“The actions I saw the other night were a far cry from that - it is such a shame.”