Community rallies to help young couple marry after Shropshire church hit by lightning
The race is on to fund repairs and get a young Shropshire couple to the altar tomorrow after lightning struck their wedding church.
St Andrew's Church in Church Aston, near Newport, was hit directly by lightning on Wednesday night as vicious thunderstorms cause devastation across the county.
It has potentially grave implications for the wedding of David Potter and Megan Kings, due to take place tomorrow.
The Rev Zoe Heming said: "It was during the wild, crazy storm that was going on Wednesday evening. There was a bang – there is a recording of it and it sounds like a bomb.
"The church tower was struck directly."
The blast hit the tower's lightning conductor and travelled through the wiring to the ground, effectively destroying all electronics in the building but sparing the structure itself.
"Anything that was attached to a power source was basically fried," said the reverend.
"We pay for the conductor every year. It's one of those things where you think 'do we really need it?'
"But had the lightning conductor not worked, it would definitely have been really bad. It would have blown a hole in the roof, it could have knocked down the spire."
While the damage to the building itself was minimal, all of the church's electronic systems were rendered useless, including lighting and audio visual equipment.
The most pressing concern is the wedding tomorrow of David and Megan, who had hoped to marry in July but had to put it off because of the coronavirus lockdown. The church has only been open for a week.
Their wedding is due to take place at the church tomorrow, and the reverend is determined to let them have their big day "come what may". To make a socially distanced wedding possible, screens and projectors are needed urgently.
Luckily, the Church Aston and wider community has pitched in. Nova FM of Newport has offered its technology for the day. Electricians and insurers are on the case.
The reverend said: "We had left the church just before the storm, after a wedding rehearsal for the couple who had already had to move their big day.
"The idea that their wedding couldn't go ahead, it would be a disaster.
"A local resident who I don't even know and still haven't met set up a fundraising page for us [to fund repairs and equipment].
"We've had offers of help going forward. People have just been amazing. Having been closed for four and a half months, like everyone else, financially we are really struggling.
"It's been really encouraging that people have supported us. We always have lots of people passing through anonymously and we think it is probably them that are giving."
The fundraiser has already seen more than £1,800 raised. Visit bit.ly/3gXi6Pp to learn more.
The reverend said: "If we have to book a marquee [for the wedding] and do it outside then we will.
"They will marry, come what may."