Bellringer set for ‘creepy night out’ in church tower

By Sarah Pitt   |   Reporter   |
Friday 13th May 2022 11:00 am
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Isabella Whitworth, centre in stripy top, and other Hatherleigh Bellringers

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A HATHERLEIGH bellringer who is afraid of spiders is preparing to spend a wakeful night in the ringing chamber of her local church tower in July raise money to restore the bells.

Isabella Whitworth, in her early 70s, has resolved to camp out in the ground floor of the tower at St John the Baptist Church– the ringing chamber – overnight on Saturday to Sunday, July 16 to 17.

She will take with her just a camp bed, a sleeping bag, a bucket to serve as a loo, should the need rise, and her mobile phone. She is asking anyone who would like to support her to donate via the bellringers’ GoFundMe page appeal to raise £75,000 to replace the bells. Not expecting to get much sleep during her vigil, she will be crafting keyrings from bell rope to give to the first 25 people who donate to her, leaving a ‘spider related’ comment.

‘I have chosen July 16-17 because we are ringing for a wedding on the Saturday afternoon and then we are ringing for the Sunday morning service, so it is not 24 hours but I think it will be long enough!’ she said. ‘I have the full permission of the vicar, Rev Leigh Winsbury. He knows all about it and he has started to call it my ‘creepy night out’ which I thought was a good name.’

She explained that she has been arachnophobic since she was a child and given that she does often encounter spiders while ringing at St John the Baptist Church in Hatherleigh, she felt that would be a good thing to face her fears.

‘It is just supposed to be a bit of fun, not for me but for everyone else,’ she said. ‘I’m not very keen on the spiders in the tower. I have spent hours of my life in that tower and occasionally I see one come out of a corner and I find it very hard to concentrate when I see this thing coming towards me. Obviously it is a place where there are going to be spiders. I don’t imagine I’m going to get much sleep on the night, but it is for a good cause.’

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