An appeal to in-spire us all
An appeal has been launched to save the spire of one of England's most historically important churches.
The spire of St Mary de Castro, Leicester, is in desperate need of repair after six-metre cracks were discovered on four of its eight faces.
Architectural engineers have been called in to install steel bands inside the 120ft structure to save it from collapsing.
However, up to £500,000 may be required to fix the damage properly.
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Supporters have now launched an SOS – Save Our Spire – Appeal. Its official launch took place at the church on Saturday, where civic leaders and guests gathered to hear about the 900-year-old building's plight.
Vic Allsop, chairman of the SOS Appeal, said: "Repair of the structure of the spire is necessary due to it being identified by English Heritage as not safe in its present condition.
"English Heritage has kindly offered us a grant of £187,000 towards our £329,000 target.
"However, the project could well end up costing up to £500,000.
"A tremendous amount of work has gone in over the past few months in getting us this far but there is still a long way to go.
"I was born in Leicester and this church is important to me, our city and to an awful lot of other people.
"Heritage is something we lose if it's not looked after."
Church member and appeal co-ordinator Rosemary Mason, said: "The spire is such an iconic feature in Leicester's skyline and we at St Mary's wish to preserve this gem for future generations to enjoy.
"St Mary's is a church for everybody and that's why help from the whole community is so important to this project."
People can sponsor a single stone for £15, or a decorated stone for £250, and have their names inscribed on it.
The church's rescue plan includes developing links with the wider community.
A brass band concert will be one of the first big fund-raisers on December 1.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby and chairman of Leicestershire County Council Peter Lewis attended the appeal launch, where Lady Gretton, Lord-Lieutenant of Leicestershire, was revealed as its new patron. Accountants Newby Castleman is sponsoring the appeal.
Sir Peter said: "I am very impressed at how the church has brought so many people together and I'm confident individuals and businesses will support the spire appeal."
Councillor Lewis said: "We should all work together to make sure that in this time of cuts and financial difficulty, treasures such as this building are not forgotten."
For details of how to donate or get involved call Mrs Mason on 07710531792, e-mail: