Church turns tables on scrap metal thieves

Worshippers in Staffordshire have turned the tables on metal thieves who target churches by launching their own scrap collection business.

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All proceeds from the enterprise are being invested in upgrading the St Giles Church building in Whittington, Lichfield, where the operation is run. It has raked in £20,000 in just three years.

The church’s senior fundraiser Harry Wiggins and vicar Fiona Haskett hatched the plan as metal thefts from churches soared.

Retired businessman Mr Wiggins, who sold Lichfield-based Viking Office Supplies Limited in 2005, said he was delighted with the success of the scheme.

“Metal was being stolen from churches everywhere, and the vicar and myself decided to turn the tables and collect scrap ourselves,” the 63-year-old said.

“I have got a van and a trailer and we leaflet drop the area, and we also put notices in the parish news. We collect the metal and take it to a big scrapyard in Burton-on-Trent.

“Every penny goes to the church and in just under three years we have made £20,000.

“We had to get a licence – we are the only church with a registered scrap metal dealership in the country.”

Three volunteers spend a day a week helping to sort the metal while father-of-two Mr Wiggins dedicates three hours each day.

Mr Wiggins said he had been approached by other churches interested in the idea.