Jess is practising hard to ring bells for Jubilee

Friday 6th May 2022 2:30 pm
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New ringer Jess Lewis, 12, is practising hard to prepare for ringing at the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee at Hatherleigh parish church. (Donna Lewis )

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A YOUNG novice ringer in Hatherleigh is preparing to join bellringers across the country in ringing to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee in June.

Belltowers up and down the county will be ringing to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, to coincide with the Service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral on Friday, June 3.

And in the tower at the Church of St John the Baptist in Hatherleigh, 12-year-old Jess Lewis is determined to be part of this chapter in history. She has been learning the ropes of bellringing from the more experienced bellringers at the church over the past few months and is now confidently ringing on her own.

Fellow ringer Isabella Whitworth said Jess had made amazing progress. ‘Jess attends Chulmleigh School and is very keen on sports, turning up week after week for ringing practice – straight after football,’ she said. ‘She is now ringing confidently on her own without a teacher standing close by, and last Sunday rang at our Sunday Service.

‘Hatherleigh Bellringers are very proud of her and want to see her reach her goal to celebrate her own special achievement.

‘Hatherleigh Bellringers are in the middle of a major fundraising project for our bells and our goal is to see them restored, so that Jess and future generations of ringers can enjoy our beautiful bells.’

The bellringers are currently fundraising to have all eight of their historic bells restored, with £30,000 raised so far towards the £75,000 needed. This has allowed the bellringers to engage the services of bell hanger Matthew Higby, one of a very few bell hangers in the country, at his foundry in Radstock, Somerset. The 140-year-old oak frame is also being replaced. As part of the work, the ringing chamber, which is currently on the ground floor, is to be raised. This will make ringing easier for the bellringers, as the bells are easier to handle on shorter ropes.

The bellringers are working with the vicar, the Rev Leigh Winsbury and Parochial Church Council, who look after the church, to dovetail the work with the church’s installation of a new loo and kitchen on the ground floor where the ringing chamber is now.

‘We have had some very very generous donations and it is beginning to come together,’ said Isabella.

‘They are very very tuneful, beautifully made bells, although at the moment they are a little hard to ring because they are very very long ropes. We don’t want to lose them’

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