‘Hole-y’ church roof tackled by poet

PUBLISHED: 17:49 27 November 2015 | UPDATED: 09:32 30 November 2015

John Hegley, photo PA images

John Hegley, photo PA images


Famously eccentric comic poet John Hegley is putting on a show to raise money for a ‘hole-y’ church roof.

John HegleyJohn Hegley

Famously eccentric comic poet John Hegley is putting on a show to raise money for repairs to a church roof.

As one of the country’s most popular contemporary poets, Hegley was stopped in the street in Stoke Newington where he lives and asked by Dissenters choir sponsor Ruth Whitehead, to put on a performance to fund repairs to the leaky roof at St Matthias Church, Wordsworth Road, where the choir practises.

The church, which was bombed in the Blitz then rebuilt by the congregation, has already had more than £180,000 spent on it, but needs another £80,000 to complete the project.

Towards the Roof will see Hegley singing songs accompanied by bluegrass fiddler Eleanor Moreton, as well as a cabaret and comedy performance.

St Matthias ChurchSt Matthias Church

Hegley, who wrote a poem as he was waiting to speak to the Gazette – featured below – said: “The audience will be invited to sing but they can be glad in the fact there will be members of the local choir to assist in their endeavour.

“There is some melancholy, there are some sad poems about my family. I hope if it’s sad it doesn’t mean that it can’t be joyous though.

“It is partly in the way that you express it, if you express yourself in a truthful and engaging fashion you can feel you are receiving something with a melancholic edge but in an upbeat way.”

Hegley’s other recent community work has been with fellow poets Francesca Beard and Aoife Mannix, making a wall mural with children at William Patten Primary School using their own words.

Short verse composed one sodden Tuesday afternoon, anticipating interview with local Gazetteer about benefit dinner for leaky place of worship:

The weather is ever so wet,

But not in the Hackney Gazette

Where it’s usually dry

And you cannot deny

That a rainproof church roof is a better bet than one that is ever so hole-y

“When I was 10 that is just the sort of thing that got me going, and when we had inspiration in school that’s what started me on my journey really,” he said.

“It encouraged me. When I wrote a poem I remember this boy next to me said to the teacher, ‘It sounds like a real poem Miss,’ and the teacher said ‘It is real poem’.

“That was such an important moment.”

Tickets for the night on Saturday cost £20 and include a Caribbean supper. Go to

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