Stolen stave from Marple returned by thief

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Grateful for the return of a treasured stave - Vicar Ed McKennaA thief who stole an ornate stave from St Martin's Church in Marple has handed it back with an apology. The silver-topped, hand-crafted Churchwarden's stave (used in escorting visiting bishops) was stolen eight years ago during a break-in at the church, causing dismay among parishioners. All efforts to trace the stave came to nothing. Then one day late last year a penitent thief knocked at the vicarage door and handed back the solid silver top of the stolen stave - wrapped in a carrier bag.

Vicar the Revd Ed McKenna said:  “The young man uttered a quick apology to me before disappearing without leaving his name.

“I was lost for words at first. The man clearly didn’t want to hang around, but we are really pleased the stave has been returned and we have freely forgiven him”.

The 55-year-old stave, which was missing its wooden pole section when returned, has now been restored and is back in its rightful place in St Martin’s Church.

Extra security measures have been put in place to protect the artefact, which is dedicated to the memory of former Churchwarden William Newman Mallett (the grandfather of radio and TV celebrity Timmy Mallett).

Father Ed (pictured with the restored stave) added:  “The congregation of St Martin’s give a heartfelt thank you to the mysterious, unknown young man, praise him for his courage in returning the stave, and express the sense of restored hope for the world, which he has given to us.”