A KIND-hearted man who helped put a group of young vandals on the right path is in the running for national recognition.

Eamonn Harding, from Cliddesden, has been nominated in the Little Deeds, Big Difference awards by his church, St Leonard’s.

Mr Harding, who is the church’s deputy warden, has been praised for all the work he does for church after tackling everything from failing boilers to finances, and even taking young church vandals under his wing.

In nominating Mr Harding, Reverend Stephen Mourant, highlighted one instance when Mr Harding shouldered the pressure of challenging situations, so the church could continue to serve the local community.

Reverend Mourant said: “In 2017 Eamonn discovered that the church had been burgled when he visited the vestry to collect money from the safe.

“He immediately informed us all, met with the police and forensics team, and organised a clear up of the brick work and damage done by the burglars when they prised the safe out of the wall.

“Just a week after this professional break in, three lads broke in and had climbed into the vestry, causing damage and taking a few small items.”

After meeting with the police the next morning to show them the damage, the 16-year-old boys then returned and climbed into the vestry again.

But rather than pursue a prosecution, the church took a different approach.

Reverend Mourant added: “Our choice was not to prosecute them, as if you go before a court and get a criminal record at the age of 16 then your life chances will diminish significantly.”

Instead the boys were asked to write a letter of apology to the church and Mr Harding took them under his wing and organised community service at the church.

Reverend Mourant added: “The boys were just utterly gutted when faced with the reality of what they had done. Other people would have been much harder on them, but that is not the way of Christ.

“Eamonn’s help to then give them pastoral and spiritual guidance will have no doubt helped steer them away from further trouble.

“His loving attitude of humility and proactive can-do nature is so refreshing and encouraging, and that is why I heartily recommended him for this volunteering award.”

The winners of the Little Deeds, Big Difference competition will be announced on November 1. To find out more about this year’s competition, including how to enter, visit www.ecclesiastical.com/churchcomp.