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Saturday, 01 November 2014

Ringers will be shown the ropes

THE familiar sound of church bells in Wylam is set to continue for the foreseeable future.

For several volunteers have come forward to save the village’s century old tradition from extinction.

Alarm bells rather than church bells had been sounding as only six ringers remained for the six heavy bells at St Oswin’s Church, which was built in 1886.

All were aged between 60 and 83 and absence or illness could have spelled the end of ringing there.

However, following an appeal, publicised in the Courant, the future is looking bright, as four villagers have come forward to be literally shown the ropes.

Tower captain Bob Doughty (69) said: “We’re absolutely delighted.

“Following the publicity, first of all two new volunteer ringers, both in their 50s, came forward and are now in the process of training.

“Then one man in his 40s came to us and said he used to bell-ring here in the 1980s and would like to be involved again.

“After that, one other person in his 60s said he would be able to get involved in the new year.

“What is more, we even got a little boy of nine asking if he could join a young learners’ class. Our bells are too heavy for him at that age, so he says he’ll come back in a few years’ time.”

Weighing between a ton and five hundredweight, the bronze bells are the second heaviest in Northumberland and have been in the tower since it was built.

They were renovated several years ago and should be in good working order for decades to come.

Mr Doughty added: “The great thing is that all the people who have come forward in response to our appeal are from Wylam itself.

“There was certainly a risk of the bellringers not being able to carry on.

“Ideally, we would like a couple more people to come forward. Then we’d have 12 in all, meaning there would be full cover for all six bells.

“For now, we are over the moon with what has happened.”

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