Vicar gambles on talents of flock

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THE REV Colin Fox gave his 170-strong congregation pounds 10 each with the order 'go forth and multiply' - and they came back with pounds 7,000.

Mr Fox's gamble paid dividends to finance emergency repairs to his church. He handed pounds 10 to each member of the congregation of St John the Baptist in Pewsey, Wiltshire, and gave them four months to come back with a profit.

One woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, believes in divine intervention after she placed her first bet on two horses, and won pounds 35.

Pat Beresford, a retired teacher, had one of the biggest profit margins - pounds 550 from sales of a village history book.

Other members held barbecues, bring-and-buy sales and piano recitals to raise money.

Mr Fox said: 'It was a tremendous effort which far exceeded my expectations when I told people to go forth and multiply.

'Four parishioners allowed me to borrow the money in the first place and I didn't lose a penny. Only a handful of people returned with the bare pounds 10. It all paid off handsomely.

'One lady did have a sense of humour and, acting on a tip from her son, placed a bet on the horses.

'I had no reservations about doing it - I had faith in my flock. A parable in the Bible says people were given a sum of money and told to go forth and use their talents wisely. I'm pleased to say most people reacted in the same way by doubling and trebling their gifts.

'It was a marvellous effort by so many people which gave a real sense of community spirit.'

The cash will be used to rewire St John's, a 13th century Norman church.