Blaze destroys Hampshire church

 The church of St Michael and All Angels, Leigh Park, Hampshire was destroyed by fire this morning. The Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Crispian Hollis, has issued the following statement: "I was devastated to hear of the fire at St Michael's, Leigh Park, this morning. I've been out to see the damage and it is very extensive, with the whole roof gone and cracks in the walls. "Fortunately Mass had just finished and there was no one in the Church. There were children in the hall and they were quickly evacuated. Everyone is safe. "I spoke with Fr Joe Keller, the parish priest, and a number of parishioners and was able to offer them my support. The congregation at Leigh Park is very resilient and I know that they will rise to the challenge this disaster has placed on them. "It is too early to say what will be done, but as far as possible Catholic life will continue at Leigh Park. A teacher at a nearby school said, "We heard the loud bang and wondered whether something had been hit. A few minutes later, the school secretary came and told us it was St Michael's. We heard the sirens and were very concerned because some of the children had brothers and sisters at the playgroup in the hall. We were all so relieved to hear later that everyone was safe." source: Barry Hudd, Communications Officer, Portsmouth Diocese

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