Page last updated at 07:26 GMT, Wednesday, 4 June 2008 08:26 UK

'Heartbreak' over church closure

St John's Polperro
The church was built in 1836

Two women who make up the entire congregation of a church in Cornwall have said they are "broken-hearted" it has to close.

Barbara Thoms and Ruth Blatchford are both in their 80s and have been worshipping at St John's church at Polperro for most of their lives.

But the building, which was built in 1838, needs costly repair work and the decision has been taken to close it.

"I've been breaking my heart over it," said Mrs Blatchford.

Mrs Thoms said: "The damp must have got in and the wall is coming down and the insurance people said we have to close."

The two women have raised money to support the church in a variety of ways over the years but 10,000 is now needed to repair the building, which can hold about 100 people.

"We've been told by our insurers they can't give us public liability insurance any more," said the Reverend Linda Smith, who is the vicar at St John's.

I find it very sad I can't end my days worshipping here
Ruth Blatchford

She said that changes in population have played a part in a dwindling congregation.

"We have some specific issues in Polperro," she said.

"It used to be full of people who lived there and who came to church regularly as a way of life but that way of life has disappeared along with quite a few people.

"As we know Polperro is largely a holiday destination."

She said the church council was now interested in the views of people in the village of how the building, which is at the top of a steep path, should be used in the future.

Mrs Thoms and Mrs Baltchford will now have to worship at Talland Parish Church, which is just outside the village.

Mrs Blatchford who was in the church's choir as a teenager said: "I find it very sad I can't end my days worshipping here."


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