A CHURCH steward has described the moment ‘what looked like a huge bomb heading towards us’ destroyed a Sutton on Sea church.
In the midst of a thunderstorm, a huge lightning strike hit the Methodist Church in Station Road around 3.15pm on Friday, causing a blaze which four fire crews battled for several hours.
Though fortunately no one was hurt, the fire and water damage has gutted the historic building.
Margaret Shenton, a steward at the church who lives in nearby Honeysuckle Close, told the Leader how she will never forget what she saw.
“I was in the kitchen when I saw and heard what was like a bomb, I thought it was going to hit us and there was a huge explosion, then quiet,” she said.
“Then I heard the church was on fire, it’s absolutely awful.
“It’s all in the hands of the insurers, we have good insurance but the roof has been destroyed and the water has damaged most of what was inside, we’re just hoping the grand piano and organ have survived.”
It is the second blaze in as many weeks after an arson attack gutted a historic grade two listed building in Furlongs Road in the town.
The Methodist Church’s usual vicar, the Rev Cecil Mundy, was away on holiday at the time of the fire and was said to be shocked at hearing the news.
The church's senior steward, Muriel Bailey, added that she was 'stunned'.
‘Big job’ to restore church
Sutton on Sea’s district councillor, Andrew Ferryman, said all residents would be affected ‘irrespective of faith’.
“The church stands at the heart of Sutton on Sea, my thoughts and prayers go out to every member,” he said.
“I have no doubt that the many organisations serving the village will rise to the challenge of coming together as a united community to support the church in their hour of need. I am quite sure a beautiful phoenix will rise from the ashes.”
Mrs Shenton added: “It will be a big job but we’re determined and we’ve been overwhelmed by the support, there’s so much kindness in this area and a church in America even sent us a nice email.
“We’ve been offered Trusthorpe’s church for morning services, as well as the Meridale and the Anglican church which we’re grateful for, we’ll battle on and do the best we can.”
Watch a video of the blaze here.