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Rugby boys try lending a hand

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Batley Rugby players put their strength to good use by helping putting a damaged churchyard back together last week.

Playing members from Batley Boys ARLFC joined members of Batley Parish Church, the oldest church in the town, in lifting the cover from heavy tombstones that had been disturbed last Wednesday.

The volunteer group was mobilised by Richard Lawley, a church goer that coaches and plays for the club.

He said: “As a group of lads we always try to help local people when we can, especially people at the older end of the community.

“The church don’t get many younger people helping out much any more and you can’t ask a 70-year-old to start throwing tombstones around - they’re very heavy!”

Richard heard about the vandalism through his wife Natalie, who helps run the church’s Sunday school.

“It sounded as though they needed a bit of man power and we’ve got that, so we offered,” he said, “It was quite a mess. There are some big lads at the club and if we can use that for a good deed then that’s good.

“In my experience, there is plenty of help out there that want to get involved in helping out if you ask for it. It’s not just our club, people are good natured and want to help other people.”

Rev Martin Naylor, the church’s priest, said that the club’s effort was a joy to behold.

He said: “It was just such a wonderful thing for the members of the club to come down and do, a truly tremendous show of pure community spirit.

“It’s so wonderful that they were able to help because we simply couldn’t have moved them ourselves. It shows what a ommunity likes ours is all about and that there is a real sense of that in Batley.”

The reverend and other members of the church are perplexed as to how the tombstones came to be moved, with several rugby players at a time having to work together to re-attach them.

“It’s an absolute mystery,” Rev Martin said, “they’re incredibly heavy and they’d take a lot of moving. It could be vandalism I suppose but this is a story of what happened afterwards.

“Perhaps it’s a ghost story!”